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Bncicnt pfjHosoplnj 

Companion to The Secret Teachings of All Ages 


Lectures on 
Ancient Philosophy 


The Secret Teachings of All Ages 

Manly P. Hall 

Illustrated by Howard IV. JVookey 

Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin 
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 
New York 


In spite of its rather unglamorous title, Lectures on Ancient 
Philosophy has been continuously in print since 1929 and the 
new edition is urgently required. It has always been my effort 
ro present the essential principles of philosophy in a manner 
understandable to all thoughtful persons. While gathering 
material for my Encyclopedic Outline , it was necessary to 
explore many areas of the esoteric traditions. All of the world’s 
beliefs and doctrines were intended to assist individuals in 
the enrichment of their daily living. There is no religion or 
philosophy that does not emphasize the improvement of 
personal conduct. It seemed appropriate, therefore, that these 
aspects of our research should be made available to all who 
might benefit from them. 

Having set forth the symbols of ancient wisdom, it seemed 
advisable to interpret these symbols as they apply to the 
enlargement of human understanding and the enrichment of 
individual character. In this volume, we also include oriental 
teachings which assist in clarifying doctrines of worldwide 
significance. There is ample precedence for this in the records 
of antiquity which prove beyond doubt that Eastern truths 
helped to enrich Western beliefs long before the beginning 
of the Christian Era. 

There is considerable confusion in matters of terminology. 
Different teachings have divergent definitions which are apt 
to prove confusing. Therefore, the definitions of such basic 
terms spirit > soul, mind, wisdom, knowledge, insight, and 
understanding have been enlarged. Unless definitions are mu- 
tually acceptable, discussion is comparatively useless. Most of 
these definitions have been derived from reliable and respect- 
ed sources of ancient scholarship. We claim no originality, 
nor are we indebted to mysterious sources for our beliefs. 
Every effort has been made to perpetuate the knowledge 
which has descended to us from the sages of earlier times. 
However, more recent findings are also included where they 
seem to contribute useful insights in obscure matters. 

The information set forth in this book should be useful to 
any person interested in comparative religion. In my earlier 
days, this was a small, but dedicated group receiving very 

little public encouragement. In recent years, however, there is 
much greater interest and emphasis upon the spiritual con- 
victions of oriental peoples. Perhaps the recognition of asiatic 
art has made it desirable to understand the motives which 
inspired the productions of the sacred symbolism of Asia. A 
larger literature is also available, and famous museums proudly 
display collections which a century ago would have been con- 
sidered as productions of heathenism. 

The discussion of the moral arithmetic of Pythagoras is a 
gentle introduction to the philosophic arithmetic of Theon of 
Smyrna and leads immediately to an inspiring contemplation 
of universal mysteries. It also helps us to appreciate the debt 
that is owed to the wisdom of the Greeks and Egyptians, and 
the mathematical speculations of oriental sages. There is no 
way in which to more rapidly release our own internal 
potentials than through the discovery of the wonders of the 
Universal Plan and the parts that each of us must play in the 
perfection of our world. 

The discussion of reincarnation in this book should remove 
all reasonable doubt concerning the benevolence of Provi- 
dence. Rebirth does not go on forever as in a tedium of crime 
and punishment. It is a constant opportunity to grow through 
the improvement of character and the gentle service to those 
in need of our sympathy and insight. 

A small section of this book is devoted to the solution of 
world conflicts. The labors of righteousness are not in vain, 
and it is ordained beyond human control that we shall build a 
better world than we know today, and that the individual 
shall unfold from within himself all that is necessary to his 
citizenship in the Divine Commonwealth. 

This book was first written over fifty years ago. Since then, 
my studies have continued, sustained by a wide variety of 
constructive experiences. I still firmly believe the basic teach- 
ings of this volume and have found no reasons to modify or 
change the principles contained therein. This new edition, 
therefore, is not a rewriting, merely a reprinting, and I trust 
it may continue to serve the purpose for which it was original- 
ly intended. MANLY P. HALL 

Los Angeles, California 
August, 1984 




Although complete in itself, this book is primarily designed 
to complement and amplify the larger volume on Symbolical 
Philosophy published last year. During the spring and fall of 
1928 I delivered two series of lectures on Symbolism and the 
Ancient Mysteries — one in San Francisco and the other in Los 
Angeles— to groups largely composed of subscribers to An En- 
cyclopedic Outline of Masonic , Qab holistic and Rosier ucian Sym- 
bolical Philosophy. These lectures were carefully taken down 
in shorthand, and form the basis of the present work. 

A considerable portion of my larger book is devoted to the 
rituals and figures of the Greek Mysteries, and this treatise is an 
effort to clarify the subject of classical pagan metaphysics. In 
his Miscellanies, published at the beginning of the last century, 
Thomas Taylor, the eminent Platonist, predicted that the 
“sublime theology which was first obscurely promulgated by 
Orpheus, Pythagoras and Plato, and was afterwards perspicu- 
ously unfolded by their legitimate disciples; a theology which, 
though it may be involved in oblivion in barbarous , and derided 
in impious ages, will again flourish for very extended periods, 
through all the infinite revolutions of time.” 

Our civilization has not yet learned to value appreciation for 
the beautiful as the very foundation of an enduring culture. 
Unless we respond to the harmonious, the elegant, the sym- 
metrical, and the rhythmic, we are recreant to past good, a 

menace to present integrity, and an obstacle to future effort. 
This truth is well made in the Merchant of Venice : 

“The man that hath no music in himself 
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, 

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils” 

For lack of aesthetics man lives the life of a Caliban, and in 
death receives the reward of a Thersites. It is not enough that 
our codes be true; they must also be beautiful. If learning does 
not teach us to love, we learn without understanding. We have 
shackled the Titans and bound the elements to our service. 
Like proud Bellerophon we have bridled Pegasus, but already 
the gadfly of Zeus is at work. By concentrating all our energies 
upon temporal concerns we have builded an empire, moving 
each stone into place at terrific cost. We have heaped up in- 
stitutions as the Pharaohs piled up pyramids, yet our monu- 
ments, like those along the Nile, shall become the tombs of 
their own builders. We have paid a frightful price for our 
boasted success, for our strength has taught us to hate, our 
power to kill, and our thought to reason away our souls. 

We must seek for that sufficient code which guided the wise 
through every generation. We must again establish those per- 
fect Mysteries through which alone, as Plato declared in the 
Phacdrus, man becomes truly perfect. Ares was burned up by 
his own flame, and his host of evil spirits consumed with him. 
Man, tired of vain wrangling and contending for power, longs 
for those quiet groves where olden sages communed with their 

Neoplatonism forms the basis for this exposition. Never in 
the history of metaphysics, since that great Alexandrian day, 
has the mind of man contemplated so rationally and lucidly the 
riddle of Abiding Destiny. The fruitage of noble endeavor can 
never die, nor is truth to be lightly cast aside. Unmoved by the 
calumny of ungrateful ages and the anathemas of a bigoted 
theology, the Platonic philosophers sit upon their golden 
thrones, awaiting with philosophic patience the day when an 
unbelieving world shall comprehend. 

Manly Palmer Hall 

Los Angeles, California, June 1, 1929. 



The Nature of the Absolute 1 


God, the Divine Foundation 25 


Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 49 


The Inferior Creation and Its Regent 73 


The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 97 


The Disciplines of Salvation 121 


The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 145 


The Mission of Aesthetics 169 


The Cycle of Necessity 


Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


Mathematics, the Master Science 


Demigods and Supermen 


Emerson’s Concept of the Oversoul 289 


Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 313 


Symbolism, the Universal Language 337 


Ancient Mystery Rituals 361 


A Philosophic Consideration of Man 385 


The Ladder of the Gods . 409 


Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 433 


The Goal of Philosophy 457 

INDEX 480 

About the Author 514 

Books by Manly P. Hall 515 


“But since the generated world is a collective whole, if we apply the 
cars of our intellect to the world we shall, perhaps, hear it thus address- 
ing us: 

“‘There is no doubt but I was produced by divinity, from whence I 
am formed perfect, composed from all animals, entirely sufficient to 
myself, and destitute of nothing; because all things are contained in 
my ample bosom, the nature of all generated beings, gods visible and 
invisible, the illustrious race of daemons, the noble army of virtuous souls, 
and men rendered happy by wisdom and virtue, Nor is earth alone 
adorned with an endless variety of plants and animals, nor does the power 
of universal soul alone diffuse itself to the sea and become bounded by 
its circumfluent waters, while the wide expanse of air and arther is 
destitute of life and soul; but the celestial spaces are filled with illustrious 
souls, supplying life to the stars and directing their revolutions in ever- 
lasting order. Add too, that the celestial orbs, in imitation of intellect 
which seeks after nothing external, are wisely agitated in a perpetual 
circuit round the central sun. Besides, whatever I contain desires good, 
all things collectively considered, and particulars according to their 
peculiar ability; for that general soul by which I am enlivened, and the 
heavens, the most illustrious of my parts, continually depend on good 
for support, together with the gods which reign in my parts, every 
animal and plant, and whatever I contain which appears destitute of 
life. While some things are seen participating of being alone, others 
of life, and others besides this arc indeed with sentient powers, some 
possess the still higher faculty of reason, and lastly others are all life 
and intelligence; for it is not proper to require every where equal things 
among such as are unequal, nor to expect that the finger should see, 
but to assign this as the province of the eye, while another purpose is 
desired in the finger, which can, I think, be no other than that it remains 
as a finger and performs its peculiar office,’ ’’ — (Plotinus On Providence.) 

1 DhcOnc < Ok c Bamlful < Dk Good 


The order of the gods of the three worlds, grouped in Chaldean triads, is here 
set forth according to the doctrines of Orpheus. This mystery was concealed by the 
first symbol ists under the figures of the dot, the line, and the circle. To the mystic, 
the fables of the ancients are indeed resplendent with unsuspected truths. 

jlectuies on (indent Philosophy 


The Nature of the Absolute 

T O define adequately the nature of the Absolute is impossible, 
for it is everything in its eternal, undivided, and uncondi- 
tioned state. In ancient writings it is referred to as the NOTH- 
ING and the ALL. No mind is capable of visualizing an 
appropriate symbolic figure of the Absolute. Of all the symbols 
devised to represent its eternal and unknowable state, a clean, 
blank sheet of paper is the least erroneous. The paper, being 
blank, represents all that cannot be thought of, all that cannot 
be seen, all that cannot be felt, and all that cannot be limited 
by any tangible function of consciousness. The blank paper 
represents measureless, eternal, unlimited SPACE. No created 
intelligence has ever plumbed its depths; no God has ever scaled 
its heights, nor shall mortal or immortal being ever discover 
the true nature of its substance. From it all things come, to it 
all things return, but it neither comes nor goes. 

Figures and symbols are pollutions drawn upon the un- 
blemished surface of the paper. The symbols, therefore, signify 
the conditions that exist upon the face of SPACE or, more cor- 
rectly, which are produced out of the substance of SPACE. 
The blank sheet, being emblematic of the ALL, each of the 
diagrams drawn upon it signifies some fractional phase of the 
ALL. The moment the symbol is drawn upon the paper, the 
paper loses its perfect and unlimited blankness. As the symbols 
represent the creative agencies and substances, the philosophers 
have declared that when the parts of existence come into mani- 
festation the perfect wholeness of Absolute Being is destroyed. 
In other words, the forms destroy the perfection of the form- 
lessness that preceded them. Symbolism deals with universal 
forces and agencies. Each of these forces and agencies is an 
expression of SPACE, because SPACE is the ultimate of sub- 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

stance, the ultimate of force, and the sum of them both. Noth- 
ing exists except it exists in SPACE; nothing is made except 
it is made of SPACE. In Egypt Space is called TAT. 

SPACE is the perfect origin of everything. It is not God; 
it is not Nature; it is not man; it is not the universe. All these 
exist in SPACE and are fashioned out of it, but SPACE is 
supreme. SPACE and Absolute Spirit are one; SPACE and 
Absolute Matter are one. Therefore SPACE, Spirit, and Matter 
are one. Spirit is the positive manifestation of SPACE; Matter 
is the negative manifestation of SPACE. Spirit and Matter exist 
together in SPACE. SPACE, Spirit, and Matter are the first 
Trinity, with SPACE the Father, Spirit the Son, and Matter 
the Holy Ghost. SPACE, though actually undivided, becomes 
through hypothetical division Absolute (or Ultimate) Spirit, 
Absolute (or Ultimate) Intelligence, and Absolute (or Ultimate) 

The most primitive and fundamental of all symbols is the 
dot. Place a dot in the center of the sheet and what does it 
signify? Simply the ALL considered as the ONE, or first point. 
Unable to understand the Absolute, man gathers its incom- 
prehensibility mentally to a focal point — the dot. The dot is 
the first illusion because it is the first departure from things as 
they eternally are— the blank sheet of paper. There is nothing 
immortal but SPACE, nothing eternal but SPACE, nothing 
without beginning or end but SPACE, nothing unchangeable 
but SPACE. Everything but SPACE either grows or decays, 
because everything that grows grows out of SPACE and every- 
thing that decays decays into SPACE. SPACE alone remains. 
Philosophically, SPACE is synonymous with Self (spelled with 
a capital S), because it is not the inferior, or more familiar, self. 
It is the Self which man through all eternity struggles to attain. 
Therefore the true Self is as abstract as the blank sheet of paper, 
and only he who can fathom the nature of the blank paper can 
discover Self. 

The dot may be likened to Spirit. The Spirit is Self with 
the loss of limitlessncss, because the dot is bound by certain 
limitations. The dot is the first illusion of the Self , the first 

The Nature of the Absolute 


imitation of SPACE , even as Spirit is the first limitation of 
Self. The dot is life localized as a center of power; the blank 
paper is life unlimited. According to philosophy the dot must 
sometime be erased, because nothing but the blank paper is 
eternal. The dot represents a limitation, for the life that is 
everywhere becomes the life that is somewhere; universal life 
becomes individualized life and ceases to recognize its kinship 
with all Being. 

After the dot is placed on the paper it can be rubbed out 
and the white paper restored to its virgin state. Thus the white 
paper represents eternity, and the dot, time; and when the dot 
is erased time is dissolved back into eternity, for time is de- 
pendent upon eternity. Therefore in ancient philosophy there 
are two symbols: the NOTHING and the ONE— the white 
paper and the dot. Creation traces its origin from the dot— the 
Primitive Sea, the Egg laid by the White Swan in the field of 

If existence be viewed from the Self downward into the 
illusion of creation, the dot is the first or least degree of illusion. 
On the other hand, if existence be viewed from the lower, or 
illusionary universe, upward toward Reality, the dot is the 
greatest conceivable Reality. The least degree of physical imper - 
manence is the greatest degree of spiritual permanence. That 
which is most divine is least mortal. Thus, in the moral sense, 
the greatest degree of good is the least degree of evil. The dot, 
being most proximate to perfection, is the simplest, and there- 
fore the least imperfect of all symbols. 

From the dot issues forth a multitude of other illusions ever 
less permanent. The dot, or Sacred Island, is the beginning of 
existence, whether that of a universe or a man. The dot is the 
germ raised upon the surface of infinite duration. The poten- 
tialities signified by the blank paper are manifested as active 
potencies through the dot. Thus the limitless Absolute is 
manifested in a limited way. 

When considering his own divine nature, man always thinks 
of his spirit as the first and greatest part of himself. He feels 
that his spirit is his real and permanent part. To the ancients, 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

however, the individualized spirit (to which is applied the term 
/) was itself a little germ floating upon the surface of Absolute 
Life. This idea is beautifully brought out in the teachings of 
the Brahmans, Buddhists, and Vedantists. The Nirvana of 
atheistic Buddhism is achieved through the reabsorption of the 
individualized self into the Universal Self. In Sir Edwin 
Arnold’s Light of Asia, the thought is summed up thus: “Om, 
mani padme, hum! the daybreak comes and the dewdrop slips 
back into the shining sea.” The “dewdrop” is the dot; the “sea” 
the blank paper. The “dewdrop” is the individualized spirit, 
or I; the blank paper that Self which is ALL, and at the achieve- 
ment of Nirvana the lesser mingles with the greater. Immor- 
tality is achieved, for that which is impermanent returns to the 
condition of absolute permanence. 

The dot, the line, and the circle are the supreme and primary 
symbols. The dot is Spirit and its symbol in the Chaldaic 
Hebrew— the Yod— is actually a seed or spermatozoon, a little 
comma with a twisting tail representing the germ of the not- 
self. In its first manifestation the dot elongates to form the 
line. The line is a string of dots made up of germ lives — the 
monadic lives of Leibnitz. From the seed growing in the 
earth comes the sprig— the line. The line, therefore, is the sym- 
bol of the dot in growth or motion. The sun is a great dot, a 
monad of life, and each of its rays a line — its own active prin- 
ciple in manifestation. The key thought is: The line is the 
motion of the dot. 

In the process of creation all motion is away from self. 
Therefore there is only one direction in which the dot can 
move. In the process of return to the perfect state all motion 
is toward self, and through self to the Universal Self. Involu- 
tion is activity outward from self; evolution is activity inward 
toward self. Motion away from self brings a decrease in con- 
sciousness and power; motion toward self brings a correspond- 
ing increase in consciousness and power. The farther the light 
ray travels from its source the weaker the ray. The line is the 
outpouring or natural impulse of life to expand. It may seem 
difficult at first to imagine the line as a symbol of general ex- 

The Nature of the Absolute 


pansion, but it is simply emblematic of motion away from 
self — the dot. The dot, moving away from self, projects the 
line; the line becomes the radius of an imaginary circle, and this 
circle is the circumference of the powers of the central dot. 
Hypothetically, every sun has a periphery where its rays end, 
every human life a periphery where its influence ceases, every 
human mind a periphery beyond which it cannot function, and 
every human heart a periphery beyond which it cannot feel. 
Somewhere there is a limit to the scope of awareness. The 
circle is the symbol of this limit. It is the symbol of the vanish- 
ing point of central energy. The dot symbolizes the cause; the 
line, the means ; and the circle, the end. 

The AIN SOPH of the Hebrew Cabalists is equivalent to 
the Absolute. The Jewish mystics employed the closed eye to 
suggest the same symbolism as that of the blank sheet of paper. 
The inscrutable NOTHING conveyed to the mind by the 
closing of the eyes suggests the eternal, unknowable, and in- 
definable nature of Perfect Being. These same Cabalists called 
spirit the dot, the opened eye, because looking away from itself 
the Ego (or I AM) beholds the vast panorama of things which 
together compose the illusionary sphere. However, when this 
same objective eye is turned inward to the contemplation of 
its own cause, it is confronted by a blankness which defies 

Only that thing which is permanent is absolutely real; hence 
that unmoved, eternal condition so inadequately symbolized by 
the blank sheet of paper is the only absolute Reality. In com- 
parison to this eternal state, forms are an ever-changing phan- 
tasmagoria, not in the sense that forms do not exist but rather 
that they are of minor significance when compared to their 
ever-enduring source. 

While through lack of adequate terminology it is necessary 
to approach a definition of the Absolute from a negative point 
of view, the blank sheet of paper signifies not emptiness but 
an utter and incomprehensible fullness when an attempt is 
made to define the indefinable. Therefore the blank paper re- 
presents that SPACE which contains all existence in a poten- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tial state. When the material universe — whether the zodiac, 
the stars, or the multitude of suns dotting the firmament— 
comes into manifestation, all of its parts are subject to the law 
of change. Sometime every sun will grow cold; sometime 
every grain of cosmic dust will blossom forth as a universe, 
and sometime vanish again. With the phenomenal creation 
comes birth, growth, decay, and the multifarious laws which 
have dominion over and measure the span of cphemcrality. 
Omar Khayyam, with characteristic Oriental fatalism, writes: 

“One thing is certain and the rest is Lies; 

The Flower that once has blown forever dies.” 

The illusions of diversity— form, place, and time— are classed 
by the Orientals under the general term Maya . The word Maya 
signifies the great sea of shadows — the sphere of things as they 
seem to be as distinguished from the blank piece of paper which 
represents the one and only THING as it eternally is. The 
mothers of the various World Saviors generally bear names 
derived from the word Maya, as for example, Mary , for the 
reason that the various redeeming deities signify realization 
born out of illusion, or wisdom rising triumphant from the 
tomb of ignorance. Philosophic realization must be born out 
of the realization of illusion. Consequently the Savior«Gods are 
bom out of Maya and rise through many tribulations into the 
light of eternity. 

The keys to all knowledge are contained in the dot, the line, 
and the circle. The dot is universal consciousness, the line is 
universal intelligence, and the circle is universal force— the 
threefold, unknowable Cause of all knowable existence (the 
three hypostases of Atma). In man the spirit is represented by 
the dot and conscious activity or intelligence by the line. Con- 
scious activity is the key to intelligence, because consciousness 
belongs to the sphere of the dot and activity to the sphere of 
the circle. The center and the circumference are thus blended 
in the connecting line— conscious activity or intelligence. The 
circle is the symbol of body and body is the limit of the radius 
of the activity of mind power pouring out of the substance of 
consciousness . 

The Nature of the Absolute 


In ancient philosophy the dot signifies Truth, Reality, in 
whatever form it may take. The line is the motion of the fact 
and the circle is the symbol of the form or figure established 
in the inferior or material sphere by these superphysical activi- 
ties. Take, for example, a blade of grass. Its form is simply 
the effect of certain active agents upon certain passive substances. 
The physical blade of grass is really a symbol of a degree of 
consciousness or a combination of cosmic activities. All forms 
arc but geometric patterns, being the reactions set up in matter 
by mysterious forces working in the causal spheres. Conscious 
activity, working upon or brooding over matter, creates form. 
Matter is not form, because matter (like SPACE, of which it 
is the negative expression) is universally disseminated but, as 
stated in the ancient doctrine, the activity of life upon and 
through its substances curdles (organizes) matter so that it 
assumes certain definite forms or bodies. These organisms thus 
caused by bringing *the elements of matter into intelligent and 
definite relationships are held together by the conscious agent 
manipulating them. The moment this agent is withdrawn the 
process of disintegration sets in. Disintegration is the inevitable 
process of returning artificial compounds to their first simple 
state. Disintegration may be farther defined as the urge of 
heterogeneous parts to return to their primitive homogeneity ; 
in other words, the desire of creation to return to SPACE. 
When the forms have been reabsorbed into the vast sea of 
matter, they are then ready to be picked up by some other phase 
of the Creative Agencies and molded afresh into vehicles for 
the material expression of divine potentialities. 

In its application to the divisions of human learning, the dot 
is the proper symbol of philosophy in that philosophy is the 
least degree of intellectual illusion. It is not to be inferred that 
philosophy is absolute truth but rather that it is the least degree 
of mental error, since all other forms of learning contain a 
greater percentage of fallacy. Nothing that is sufficiently tan- 
gible to be susceptible of accurate definition is true in the 
absolute sense, but philosophy, transcending the limitations of 
the form world, achieves more in its investigation of the nature 
of Being than does any other man-conceived discipline. The 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

more complex the form, the farther removed it is from its 
source. As more marks are placed upon the white sheet of 
paper a picture is gradually created which may become so com- 
plicated that the white paper itself is entirely obscured. Thus 
the more diversified the creations, the less the Creator is dis- 
cernible. Taking up the least possible space upon the paper, 
the dot detracts the least from the perfect expanse of the white 

Philosophy per se is the least confusing method of approach- 
ing Reality. When less accurate systems are employed, a cobweb 
of contending and confusing complexities is spread over the 
entire surface of the blank paper, hopelessly entangling the 
thinker in the maze of illusion. As the dot cannot retire be- 
hind itself to explore the nature of the paper upon which it is 
placed, so no philosophy can entirely free itself from the in- 
volvements of mind. As man, however, must have some code 
by which to live, some system of thought which will give him 
at least an intellectual concept of ultimates, the wisest of all ages 
have contributed the fruitage of their transcendent genius to 
this great human need. Thus philosophy came into being. 

Like the dot, philosophy is an immovable body. Its essential 
nature never changes. When the element of change is intro- 
duced into philosophy it descends to the level of theology, or 
rather, it is involved and distorted by the disciplines of theology. 
Theology is a motion, a mystical gesture as it were; it is the 
dot moving away from itself to form the line. Theology is not 
a fixed element like philosophy; it is a mutable element sub- 
ject to numberless vicissitudes. Theology is emotional, change- 
able, violent, and at periodic intervals bursts forth in many 
forms of irrational excess. Theology occupies a middle ground 
between materiality and true illumined spirituality which, 
transcending theology, becomes a comprehension, in part at 
least, of divine concerns. 

As has already been suggested, the line is the radius of an 
imaginary circle, and when this circle is traced upon the paper 
we have the proper symbol of science. Science occupies the cir- 
cumference of the sphere of self. The savant gropes in that 

The Nature of the Absolute 


twilight where life is lost in form. He is therefore unfitted to 
cope with any phase of life or knowledge which transcends 
the plane of material things. The scientist has no comprehen- 
sion of an activity independent of and dissociated from matter; 
hence his sphere of usefulness is limited to the lower world and 
its phenomena. The physical body of what man calls knowl- 
edge is science; the emotional body, theology; and the mental 
and supermental bodies, natural and mystical philosophy re- 
spectively. The human mind ascends sequentially from science 
through theology to philosophy, as in ancient days it descended 
from divine philosophy through spiritual theology to the con- 
dition of material science which it now occupies. 

Consider the great number of people who are now leaving 
the church at the behest of science. Most of these individuals 
declare their reason for dissenting to the dictates of theology 
is that the dogma of the church has proved to be philosophically 
and scientifically unsound. The belief is quite prevalent that 
nearly all scientists are agnostics, if not atheists, because they 
refuse to subscribe to the findings of early theologians. Thus 
the mind must descend from credulity to absolute incredulity 
before it is prepared to assume the onus of individual thinking. 
On the other hand, the scientist who has really entered into 
the spirit of his labors has found God. Science has revealed to 
him a super theology. It has discovered the God of the swirling 
atoms; not a personal Deity but an all-permeating, all-powerful, 
impersonal Creative Agent akin to the Absolute Being of occult 
philosophy. Thus the little tin god on his golden throne falls 
to make way for an infinite Creative Principle which science 
vaguely senses and which philosophy can reveal in fuller 

The primitive symbols now under discussion bring to mind 
the subject of alphabets. The ancient Alphabet of Wisdom is 
symbolism, and all the figures used in this supreme alphabet 
arc taken out of the dot, the line, and the circle; in other words, 
they are made up of various combinations of these elementary 
forms. Even the Arabic numerical systems and the letters of 
the English alphabet are compounded from these first three 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

figures. In Oriental mysticism there are certain objects consid- 
ered peculiarly appropriate for subjects of meditation. One of 
the most important of the native drawings is that of a lotus 
bud carrying in its heart the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, 
the letter usually made resplendent by gold leaf. This letter, 
as the first of the alphabet, is employed to direct the mind of 
the devotee toward all things which are first, especially Uni- 
versal Self which is the first of all Being and from which all 
Nature emerged, as all the letters are presumed to have come 
forth from the first letter of the alphabet. Thus from one letter 
issue all letters, and from a comparatively small number of 
letters an infinite diversity of words, these words being the 
sound symbols which man has employed to designate the diver- 
sified genera of the mundane creation. The words were origin- 
ally designed as sound-names, and were so closely related to the 
objects upon which they were conferred that by an analysis of 
the word the mystical nature of the object could be determined. 

St. Irenaeus describes the Greek cosmological man as bearing 
upon his body the letters of the Greek alphabet. The sacred- 
ness of the letters is also emphasized in the New Testament 
where Christ is referred to as the Alpha and the Omega, the 
first and the last, the beginning and the end. The letters of the 
alphabet arc those sacred symbols through the combinations of 
which is created an emblem for every thought, every form, 
every element, and every condition of material existence. Like 
the very illusional world whose phenomena they catalog, words 
are slayers of the Real, and the more words used the less of the 
nature of Reality remains. In the introduction to The Secret 
Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky gives several examples of the ancient 
symbolic alphabets in which the Mystery teachings arc preserved. 
Writing was originally reserved for the perpetuation of the 
Ancient Wisdom. Today the Mysteries still have their own 
language undefiled by involvement in the commercial and 
prosaic life of the unillumined. The language of the initiates is 
called the Senzar, and consists of certain magical hieroglyphical 
figures by which the wise men of all lands communicated with 
each other. 

The Nature of the Absolute 11 

In the primordial symbols of the dot, the line, and the circle, 
are also set forth the mysteries of the three worlds. The dot 
is symbolic of heaven, the line of earth, and the circle of hell — 
the three spheres of Christian theology. Heaven is represented 
by the dot because it is the first world or foundation of the uni- 
verse. In its mystical interpretation the word heaven signifies 
a “heaved up” or convoluted area, and may be interpreted to 
mean that which is raised above or elevated to a state of first 
dignity. In a similar manner the origin of the word salvation 
may be traced to saliva, though the kinship of the two words 
has long been ignored. Thus salvation signifies the process of 
mixing gross substance with a spiritual fluidic essence which 
renders it cosmically digestible and assimilable. Heaven is a 
figure of the superior state or condition of power, and conse- 
quently is the proper symbol of the supreme part of the Deity 
out of whose substances (or, more correctly, essences) the lesser 
universe is composed. Heaven is the plane of the spiritual 
nature of God, earth the plane of the material nature of God, 
and hell that part of existence in which the nature of God (or 
good) is least powerful; the outer circumference of Deity. The 
Scandinavian hel-heim — the land of the dead— is a dark and 
cold sphere where the fires of life burned so low that it seemed 
as though they might at any moment flicker out. Thus hell 
may be defined as the place where the light fails, or in which 
divine intelligence is so diluted by matter as to be incapable of 
controlling the manifestations of force. In the ancient Greek 
system of thought Hades, or the underworld, simply signifies 
the physical universe in contradistinction to the spiritualized 
and illumined superior worlds. The Greeks conceived the 
physical universe to be that part of creation in which the light 
of God is most obscured, and darkness not as primordial Reality 
but rather the absence of divine light. Darkness in this sense 
represents the privative darkness as distinguished from the dark- 
ness of the Absolute which includes the nature of light within 
its own being. 

So-called physical life begins at the point where matter dom- 
inates and inhibits the manifestations of energy and intelligence. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Spirit, so-called, is only one-fifth as active in the physical world 
as it is in its own plane of unobstructed expression. Therefore 
the physical plane is simply a sphere in Nature wherein arc 
blended four-fifths of inertia and one-fifth of activity. This 
does not mean that the inhabitants of this sphere are composed 
four-fifths of material substances but rather that the greater part 
of their spiritual natures can find no medium of expression, and 
consequently are latent. Thus the spiritual nature signified by 
the dot is inclosed or imprisoned within matter signified by the 
circle, the result being the various ensouled forms evolving 
through the material sphere. 

It may be well to summarize in the simple terminology of 
the Alexandrian Neoplatonists, to whom die modern world 
is indebted for nearly all the great fundamentals of philosophy. 
If you will turn to the diagram at the beginning of this chapter 
you will note three circles in a vertical column and each hori- 
zontally trisected and overlapped. The upper circle signifies 
the power of the dot, the central circle the power of the line, 
and the lower circle the power of the circumference. Each of 
these circles contains its own trinity of potencies, which were 
called by the Chaldeans the Father, the Power, and the Mind. 
The three circles each trisected give nine hypothetical panels or 
levels which signify the months of the prenatal epoch and also 
the philosophical epoch as given in the nine degrees of the 
Eleusinian Mysteries. By this symbolism is revealed much of 
the sacredness attached to the number 9. By the method of 
overlapping, however, the 9 is reduced to 7, the latter number 
constituting the rungs of the Mithraic or philosophic ladder of 
the gods— the links of the golden chain connecting Absolute 
Unity above (or within) with Absolute Diversity below (or 

The first trinity (the upper circle) consists of God the 
Father and the nature of his triple profundity; the second trin- 
ity (the middle circle), God the Son in his triple sphere erf 
intellection; the third trinity (the lower circle), God the 
Holy Spirit, the Formator with his formative triad which is 
the foundation of the world. God the Holy Spirit, the third 

The Nature of the Absolute 


person of the Christian triad, is synonymous with Jehovah, the 
racial god of the Jews; Shiva, the destroyer-creator of the 
Hindus; and Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld. A 
study of the form and symbols of Osiris reveals that the lower 
portion of his body is swathed in mummy wrappings, leaving 
only his head and shoulders free. In his helmet Osiris wears 
the plumes of the law and in one hand clasps the three scepters 
of the underworld — the Anubis-headed staff, the shepherd’s 
crook, and the flail. As the god of the underworld, Osiris has 
a body composed of death (the material sphere) and a living 
head rising out of it into a more permanent sphere. This is 
Jehovah, the Lord of Form, whose body is a material sphere 
ruled over by death but who himself, as a living being, rises 
out of the dead not-sclf which surrounds him. In India Shiva 
is often shown with his body a peculiar bluish white color. 
This is the result of smearing his person with ashes and soot, 
ashes being the symbol of death. Shiva is not only a destroyer 
in that he breaks up old forms and orders, but he is a creator 
in that, having dissolved an organism, he rearranges its parts 
and thus forms a new creature. As the bull was sacred to 
Osiris, was offered in sacrifice to Jehovah, and was also a 
favorite form assumed by the god Jupiter (consider the legend 
of Europa), so Nandi is the chosen vahan of Shiva. Shiva 
riding the bull signifies death enthroned upon, supported by, 
and moving in harmony with law; for the bull is the proper 
symbol of the immutability of divine procedure. 

It is now in order to consider the subject of recapitulation. 
The vision of Ezekiel intimates that creation consists of wheels 
within wheels, the lesser recapitulating in miniature the activi- 
ties of the greater. In the diagram under consideration it is 
evident that by trisecting each of the smaller worlds or circles 
they are capable of division according to the same principle that 
holds good in connection with the three major circles. Thus 
as the first large circle itself is synonymous with the dot, so the 
upper panel of each of the trisected circles is also symbolic of 
the dot. Hence the upper panel of each circle is its spiritual 
part, the center panel its intellective or mediatory part, and the 
lower panel its material or inferior part. The entire lower 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

circle ruled over by Zeus was designated by the Greeks as the 
world, because it was wholly concerned with the establishment 
and generation of substances. The upper panel of the inferior 
world, partaking of the same analogy as the first world or 
upper circle (which it recapitulates in part) is termed the spirit 
of the world. The central panel, likewise recapitulating the 
central circle, becomes the mind or soul of the world, and the 
lower panel, recapitulating the lower circle, the body or form 
of the world. Thus spirit consists of a trinity of spirit, mind, 
and body in a spiritual state; mind of a spirit, mind, and body 
in a mental state; and form or body of a spirit, mind, and body 
in a material state. While Zeus is the God of Form, he mani- 
fests as a trinity, his spiritual nature bearing the name Zeus. 
The intellective nature, soul or mediatory nature of Zeus is 
termed Poseidon, and his lowest or objective material mani- 
festation, Hades. As each of the Hindu gods possessed a Shakti 
(or a feminine counterpart signifying their energies), so Zeus 
manifests his potentialities through certain attributes. To these 
attributes were assigned personalities, and they became com- 
panion gods with him over his world. 

The Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades triad of the Greeks is the 
Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto triad of the Romans. Jupiter may 
be considered synonymous with the spiritual nature of the sun 
which, according to the ancients, had a threefold nature sym- 
bolic of the threefold Creator of the world. The vital energy 
pouring from the sun and one of its manifestations becomes 
Neptune, the lord of the hypothetical sea of subsolar space. In 
Neptune we have a parallel with the hypothetical ether of 
science, the super-atmospheric air which is the vehicle of solar 
energy. Pluto becomes the actual gross chemical earth, and his 
abode is presumed to be in dark, subterranean caverns where 
he sits upon his ancient throne in impenetrable and intermin- 
able gloom. The analogy to the dot, the line, and the circle 
again appears. Jupiter is the dot, Neptune the line, and Pluto 
the circle. Thus die life body of the sun is Jupiter; the light 
body of the sun, Neptune; and the fire body of the sun, 
Pluto ruling his inferno. It should be continually borne in 
mind that we are not referring to great universal realities, but 

The Nature of the Absolute 


simply to those phases of cosmogony directly concerned with 
matter, which is the lowest and most impermanent part of crea- 
tion. Over this inferior world with its form and its formative 
agents sits Jupiter, lord of death, generator of evil, the Demi- 
urgus and world Formator, who with his twelve Titanic 
Monads (the Olympic pantheon) builds, preserves, and ulti- 
mately annihilates those things which he fashions in the outer 
sea of divine privation. 

It is noteworthy that the astronomical symbol of the sun 
should be the dot in a circle, for as can be deduced from the 
subject matter of this lecture the dot, the circle, and the hypo- 
thetical connecting line give a complete key to the actual nature 
of the solar orb. When Jupiter, or Jehovah, is called the lord 
of the sun, it docs not necessarily mean the sun which is the 
ruler of this solar system; it means any one of the millions of 
universal suns which are functioning upon the plane or level of 
a solar orb. Jupiter manifests himself as a mystical energy 
which gives crops, perpetuates life, and bestows all the blessings 
of physical existence, only to ultimately deprive mankind and 
his world of all these bounties. Jupiter is the sun of illusion, 
the light which lights the inferior creation but has nothing in 
common with that great spiritual light which is the life of man 
and the light of the world. 

According to the Gnostics, the Demiurgus and his angels 
represented die false light which lured souls to their destruction 
by causing them to believe in the permanence of matter and 
that life within the veil of tears was the true existence. Accord- 
ing to philosophy, only those who rise above the light of the 
inferior universe to that great and glorious spiritual lumin- 
escence belonging to the superphysical spheres, can hope to 
discover everlasting life. The physical universe is therefore the 
body of Jupiter, Jehovah, Osiris, or Shiva. The sun is the pul- 
sating heart of each of these deities, and sun spots are caused 
(as H. P. Blavatsky notes) by the expansion and contraction of 
the solar heart at intervals of eleven years. In the Greek and 
Roman mythologies, Zeus, or Jupiter, is the chief of the twelve 
gods of Olympus. Olympus was a mythical mountain rising 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

in the midst of the world. It is the dot or sun itself, for it is 
written that the tabernacle of the gods is in the skies. From the 
face of this sun shines a golden corona whose numberless fiery 
points are the countless gods who transmit the life of their 
sovereign lord and who are his ministers to the farthest corners 
of his empire. In the Hebrew philosophy the rays of the sun 
are the hairs of the head and beard of the Great Face. Each 
hair is the radius of a mystical circle, with the sun as the center, 
and outer darkness as the circumference. It is curious that in 
Egypt the name of the second person of the triad— the mani- 
fes ter— should be Ray or Ra, and his title, “the lord of light.” 
Ra bears witness, however, to his invisible and eternal Father, 
for the light of the sun is not the true sun but bears witness 
to the invisible source of the effulgence. Thus, as the beams of 
the physical sun become the light of the physical body of exist- 
ence, so the rays of the intellectual sun are the light of the 
mind, and all power, all vitality, and all increase come as the 
result of attunement to the fiery streamers of those divine beings 
to whom has been given the appellation of “the gods.” 

A few words at this time concerning the symbolism of Nep- 
tune. While Neptune is popularly associated with the sea, oc- 
cultly he signifies the albuminous part of the great egg of Jupiter. 
In certain schools of Orphic mysticism, the inferior universe 
(like the supreme, all-inclosing sphere) is symbolized by an egg. 
This lesser egg has Jupiter for a yolk, Neptune for the albumen, 
and Pluto for the shell. It is therefore evident that Neptune is 
not associated with the physical element of water, but rather 
with the electrical fluids permeating the entire solar system. 
He is also associated with the astral world, a sphere of fluidic 
essences and part of the mirror of Maya, the illusion. As the 
connective between Jupiter and Pluto, Neptune represents a 
certain phase of material intellect which, like the element of 
water, is very changeable and inconstant. Like water, Neptune 
is recognized as a vitalizer and life-giver, and in the ancient 
Mysteries was associated with the germinal agents. The fish, 
or spermatozoon, previous to its period of germination, was 
under his dominion. 

The Nature of the Absolute 


Descending from the sphere of cosmology to the life of the 
individual, it is important that certain analogies be made be- 
tween Jupiter as the lord of the world and the microcosmic 
Jupiter who is the lord of each individual life. That which in 
our own nature we call / is, according to mysticism, not the 
real I or Self but the Jupiterian or inferior I— the demiurgic 
self; it may even be said to be the false self which, by accepting 
as real, we elevate to a position greater than it is capable of 
occupying. A very good name for Jupiter is the human spirit 
as differentiated from the divine spirit which belongs to the 
supermaterial spheres. In man Jupiter has his abiding place in 
the human heart, while Neptune dwells in the brain, and Pluto 
in the generative system. Thus is established the formative 
triad in the physical nature of man. As the physical universe 
is the lowest and least permanent part of existence, so the phys- 
ical body is the lowest and least permanent part of man. Above 
the lord of the body with his Aeons or angels is the divine mind 
and all-pervading consciousness. The body of man is mortal, 
though his divine parts partake, to a certain degree, of immor- 
tality. Over the mortal nature of man rules an incarnating 
ego which organizes matter into bodies, and by this organiza- 
tion foredooms them to be redistributed to the primordial ele- 
ments. As Jupiter had his palace on the summit of Mount 
Olympus, so from his glorious cardiac throne on the top of the 
diaphragm muscle he rules the body as lord of the human 
world. Jupiter in us is the thing we have accepted as our true 
Self, but meditation upon the subject matter of this lecture will 
disclose the true relationship between the human self and the 
Universal ALL of which it is a fragmentary yet all-potential 

Recognizing Jupiter to be the lord of the world, or the in- 
carnating ego which invests itself in universal matter, it then 
becomes evident that the two higher spheres of trinities of 
divine powers constitute the Hermetic anthropos, or nonincar- 
nating overman. This majestic and superior part, consisting 
of the threefold darkness of Absolute Cause and the threefold 
light or celestial splendor, hovers above the third triad con- 
sisting of the threefold world form, or triune cosmic activity. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The highest expression of matter is mind, which occupies the 
middle distance between activity on the one hand and inertia 
on the other. The mind of man is hypothetically considered to 
consist of two parts: the lower mind, which is linked to the 
demiurgic sphere of Jupiter, and the higher mind, which 
ascends toward and is akin to the substance of the divine power 
of Kronos. These two phases of mind are the mortal and im- 
mortal minds of Eastern philosophy. Mortal mind is hopelessly 
involved in the illusions of sense and substance, but immortal 
or divine mind transcending these unrealities is one with truth 
and light. Here we have a definite key to several misunder- 
stood concepts as now promulgated through the doctrines of 
Christian Science. 

Since intelligence is the highest manifestation of matter, it 
is logically the lowest manifestation of consciousness, or spirit, 
and Jupiter (or the personal 7) is enshrined in the substances 
of mortal mind where he controls his world through what man 
is pleased to term intellect. The Jupiterian intellect, however, 
is that which sees outward or toward the illusions of manifested 
existence, whereas the higher or spiritual mind (which is latent 
in most individuals) is that superior faculty which is capable 
of thinking inward or toward the profundities of Self; in other 
words, is capable of facing toward and gazing upon the sub- 
stance of Reality. Thus the mind may be likened to the two- 
faced Roman god Janus. With one face this god gazes outward 
upon the world and with the other inward toward the sanc- 
tuary in which it is enshrined. The two-faced mind is an ex- 
cellent subject for meditation. The objective or mortal mind 
continually emphasizes to the individual the paramount impor- 
tance of physical phenomena ; the subjective, or immortal mind, 
if given opportunity for expression, combats this material in- 
stinrt by intensifying the regard for that which transcends the 
limitations of the physical perceptions. 

Subservient to Jupiter who, bearing his thunderbolt and 
accompanied by his royal eagle is indeed the king of this world, 
are Neptune and Pluto. The god Neptune, or course, is not 
to be regarded as either the planet or as an influence derived 

The Nature of the Absolute 


from the planet, but as the lord of the middle sphere of the 
inferior world. In man the middle sphere between mind and 
matter is occupied by emotion or feeling. The instability of 
human emotion is well symbolized by the element of water 
which is continually in motion, the peaceful surface of which 
can be transformed into a destroying fury by forces moving 
above its broad expanse. The emotional nature of man is 
closely associated with the astral light or magical sphere of the 
ancient and mediaeval magicians. In this plane illusion is partic- 
ularly powerful. As one writer has wisely observed, “It is a 
land of beauty, a garden of flowers, but a serpent is entwined 
about the stem of each.” Among the Oriental mystics this 
sphere of the astral light is considered particularly dangerous, 
for those who are aspiring to an understanding of spiritual 
mysteries are often enmeshed in this garden of Kundry, and 
believing they have found the truth are carried to their de- 
struction by the flow of this astral fluid. 

Riding in his chariot drawn by sea-horses and surrounded 
by Nereids riding upon sporting dolphins, Neptune carries in 
his hand the trident, a symbol common to both the lord of the 
illusion and the red-robed tempter. Neptune is the lord of 
dreams, and all mortal creatures are dreamers; all that mankind 
has accomplished in the countless ages of its struggle upward 
toward the light is the result of dreaming. Yet if dreams are 
not backed up by action and controlled by reason they become 
a snare and a delusion, and the dreamer drifts onward into 
oblivion in a mystic ecstasy. You will remember that according 
to Greek mythology there was a river called the Styx which 
divided the sphere of the living from that of the dead. This 
river is the mysterious sea of Neptune which all men must cross 
if they would rise from material ignorance into philosophic 
illumination. This Neptunian sea may be likened to the ethers 
which permeate and bind together the material elements of 
Nature. The sphere of Neptune is a world of ever-moving 
fantasy without beginning and without end, a mystical maze 
through which souls wander for uncounted ages if once caught 
in the substances of this shadowy dreamland. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The lowest division of the Jupiterian sphere is under the 
dominion of Pluto, the regent of death. Pluto is the person- 
ification of the mass physical attitude of all things toward ob- 
jective life. Pluto may be termed the principle of the mortal 
code, in accordance with which Nature lives and moves and 
has her being. Pluto may also be likened to an intangible 
atmosphere permeated with definite terrestrial instincts. Un- 
consciously inhaling this atmosphere, man is enthused by it 
and accepts it as the basis of living. The individual who is 
controlled by the Plutonic miasma contracts a peculiar mental 
and spiritual malaria which destroys all transcendental instinct 
and spiritual initiative, leaving him a psychical invalid already 
two-thirds a victim of the Plutonic plague. As Plato so admir- 
ably says, “The body is the sepulcher of the soul,” and whereas 
Neptune is symbolic of the astral or elemental soul (which is a 
mysterious emanation from elementary Nature) Pluto is the 
god of the underworld, the deity ruling the spheres of the 
mysterious circle of being and therefore represents the lowest 
degree of Jupiterian light, which is physical matter. Hades, or 
the land of the dead, is simply an environment resulting from 
crystallization. Everything that exists in a crystallized state 
furnishes the environment of Hades for whatever life is evolv- 
ing through it. Thus the lower universe is ruled over by three 
apparently heartless gods— birth, growth, and decay. From 
their palaces in space these deities hurl the instruments of their 
wrath upon hapless humanity and elementary Nature. But he 
who is fortunate enough to escape the thunderbolts of Jove will 
yet fall beneath the trident of Neptune or be torn to pieces by 
the dogs of Father Dis (Pluto). The ancient Greeks occasion- 
ally employed a centaur to represent man, thus indicating that 
out of the body of the beast which feels upon its back the lash 
of outrageous destiny rises a nobler creature possessed of God- 
given reason, who through sheer force of innate divinity shall 
become master of those who seek to bind him to a mediocre 

While on the subject of the dot, the line, and the circle, 
there is one very simple application of the principle which we 
insert in order to emphasize the analogies existing through the 

The Nature op the Absolute 


entire structure of human thought. Take a simple problem in 
grammar. The noun, which is the subject of the sentence, is 
analogous to the dot; the verb, which is the action of the subject, 
is analogous to the line; and the object, which is the thing 
acted upon, is analogous to the circle. These analogies may 
also be traced through music and color and through the progres- 
sion of chemical elements. Always the trinity of the dot, the 
line, and the circle has some correspondent, for it is the basis 
upon which the entire structure of existence and function— both 
universal and individual — has been raised. Consider this funda- 
mental symbolism, philosophize upon it, dream about it, for an 
understanding of these symbols is the beginning of wisdom. 
There is no problem, whether involved with the simple mech- 
anism of an earthworm or the inconceivable complex mecha- 
nism of a universe, that has not been constructed upon the 
triangular foundation of the dot, the line, and the circle. These 
are the proper symbols of the creative, preservative, and disin- 
tegrative agencies which manifest the incomprehensible Ab- 
solute before temporary creation. 

The three worlds we have outlined are the supreme, the 
superior and the inferior worlds of the Orphic theology as re- 
vealed by Pythagoras and Plato. The supreme world is the 
sphere of the one indivisible and ever-enduring Father; the 
superior world is the sphere of the gods, the progeny of the 
Father; and the inferior world is the sphere of mortal creatures 
who are the progeny of the gods. “Therefore,” says Pythagoras, 
“men live in the inferior world, God in the supreme world, 
and the men who are gods and the gods who are men in the 
intermediate plane.” You will recall that it was said of Pythag- 
oras by his disciples that there were of two-footed creatures 
three kinds: gods, men, and Pythagoras. It should be inferred 
that the dot represents the gods, the circle men, and the line 
connecting them Pythagoras, or the personification of that 
superhuman wisdom which binds cause and effect inextricably 
together, and which is the hope of salvation for the lesser. The 
Deity dwelling in the supreme world and which the Platonists 
termed the One, was, according to the Scandinavians, All- 
Father, the sure foundation of being. In India it was Brahma 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

and in Egypt, Ammon. The line always represented the Savior- 
Gods, they being the eldest sons or first-born of intangible 
Deity. The line bears witness of the dot as the light bears wit- 
ness of the life. All this gives a clue to the statement in the 
New Testament, “Whoso hath seen the Son, hath seen the 
Father, for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son.” 
In other words, whoso hath seen the line, hath seen the dot, 
for the dot is in the line and the line is in the dot. In the an- 
cient Jewish rites the line was Michael, the archangel of the 
sun; in Scandinavia, Balder the Beautiful. 

It is to the lower world of men that the light (the dot pour- 
ing into the line), personified as the Universal Savior, descends 
to redeem consciousness from the darkness of a living grave 
(the circumference of the circle). The Mystery God who lifted 
souls to salvation through his own nature thus represents the 
line, the divine symbol of the way of achievement, for it is 
written that none shall come unto the Father save by the Son 
and none of those creatures dwelling in the circumference can 
reach the center or dot save by ascending the hypothetical line 
of the radius. The line is the bridge connecting cause with 
effect. In Immanuel Kant’s philosophy we find the dot desig- 
nated the noumenon and the circumference the phenomenon ; 
the former the Reality, the later the unreality. The line (the 
human mind) must ever be the agency that bridges the void 
between them. 

In the Platonic philosophy there are three manners of being : 
(1) gods, or those most proximate to the Absolute, who dwell 
within the nature of the dot; (2) men, or those who are most 
distant from the Absolute, who dwell in the circumference of 
the circle; (3) the heroes and the demigods, who are suspended 
between Divinity and humanity and who dwell in the sphere 
of the line. So, according to philosophy, the line is a ladder 
up which man ascends to light from his infernal state and 
down which he descends in his involution. The fall of man 
is the descent down the ladder from the dot to the circum- 
ference; the resurrection or redemption of man is his return 
from the circumference to the dot. Of such importance arc 

The Nature of the Absolute 


these primary symbols that we have felt it absolutely necessary 
to devote the introductory lectures of this series to the subject 
of the dot, the line, and the circle. It should ever be borne in 
mind that the veneration for symbols is not idolatry, for sym- 
bols are formulated to clarify truths which in their abstract 
form are incomprehensible. Idolatry consists in the inability of 
the mind to differentiate between the symbol and the abstract 
principle for which it stands. If this definition be accepted, it 
can be proved that there are very few truly idolatrous peoples. 
Philosophically, the literal ist is always an idolater. He who 
worships the letter of the law bows down to wood and stone, 
but he who comprehends the spirit of the law is a true wor- 
shiper before the measureless altar of eternal Nature upon 
which continually burns the Spirit Fire of the world. 


It ii proper that the Leader of Universal should be regarded as the head of the 

^ “Iwtf 1 «ch F com P !cxions ^ symbolized by faces. Speaking its 

d* surfJtt 5’tS “u* tG ,SSUC fr ? m ,tS mouth a * CTcd syllable; by which 
surface, of the three world, are agitated and caused to assume the semblance of 


God, the Divine Foundation 

F ROM the preceding lecture it is evident that any description 
or definition of unknowable ultimates is possible only in 
the terms of negation. In other words, every definition so-called 
must be eliminative, and that which remains when all else is 
taken away must necessarily be the only thing incapable of 
removal. When considering the nature of primordial substance, 
the average school of philosophy postulates an active First 
Cause; otherwise it is wholly at a loss to explain how creation 
can be the product of a passive power. Activity is accordingly 
postulated as a fundamental attribute of Being. To me, how- 
ever it is inconceivable that the First Cause (or more correctly 
the Causeless Cause) should be either positive or negative. 
Rather it seems more fitting to posit a permanent condition 
which is neither positive in an “active” sense nor negative in a 
“passive” sense, but which is power in absolute suspension. For 
lack of a better defining term we might conceive of Eternal 
Being as an enduring neitherness, partaking of neither the 
presence nor the absence of any tangible force or condition. 
The condition of the Absolute can only be suggested by a sus- 
pended neitherness of both activity and inertia. 

To attempt an analysis of the fabric of even the ground- 
work of SPACE far exceeds the capacity of any human intellect. 
Never in the history of philosophy has there been evolved a 
mind capable of grasping all the multitudinous elements of 
Being. The world is filled with people who foolishly try to 
teach or seek to be taught the length, breadth, and thickness of 
ultimates, when but a moment’s true thinking would demon- 
strate the fallacy and futility of such effort. Since the ground- 
work of SPACE — the ultimate abstraction— transcends every 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

faculty and every dimension, it can never be comprehended 
by a reasoning organism that must necessarily arrive at its con- 
clusions on the basis of faculty and dimension. For the human 
mind to understand that which is greater than itself is as im- 
possible as for a mere man to swallow the ocean. The effort 
of the human mind to circumscribe the entirety of manifesta- 
tion is comparable to a mollusk trying to enclose the sea within 
its shell Realizing, therefore, how apropos is the ancient state- 
ment that to define Deity is to defile it, we are forced to accept 
the inevitable conclusion of the ages: namely, that the ultimates 
of beginning and end are alike unknowable. These conclusions 
arc in harmony with the deductions of both Socrates and 

The gods may be conceived of in either the singular or the 
plural sense; in the singular if we consider the deities as frac- 
tional parts of one Creative Agent; in the plural if we look 
upon the various parts as separate vehicles of cosmic intelligence. 
Thus in many ancient doctrines we have evidence of a funda- 
mental monotheism manifesting through a complex polytheism. 
For example, the Elohim, or secondary gods of the ancient Jews 
who, as the Creative Demiurgi, moved upon the face of the 
deep and together constitute a single cosmic deity. In the same 
way the elaborate pantheon of the Hindus is a mosaic of gods, 
who in combination form the nature of the supreme and all- 
powerful Brahma. The gods may be considered as symbolic 
of the individual states of consciousness continually unfolding 
within the nature of Absolute Being. The concept of a single 
personal Deity who was prudent enough to fashion himself 
without eyelids lest he fall asleep from that exhaustion which 
must necessarily result from an eternal vigil is hardly adequate 
to meet the evident needs of existence. Up to the present time 
the advocates of monotheism have advanced no concept of 
Deity adequate to control creation without the assistance of a 
privy council or celestial parliament. A few moments of serious 
consideration will reveal that a fundamental monotheism 
manifesting through an elaborate polytheism is by far the most 
noble concept of cosmic government, and is the basis of all 
the successful governments maintained by man upon earth. 

God , the Divine Foundation 


The modern world is inclined to look askance at the elaborate 
pantheons of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Hindus, and rather 
prides itself that it has outgrown such theological crudities. 
Even now, however, there is a definite reversion to the pan- 
theistic cults of antiquity, and when properly understood the 
Orphic theogony will enjoy a glorious renaissance. 

The subject of philosophic polytheism deserves further atten- 
tion. Polytheism must not be considered synonymous with the 
blind adoration of an infinitude of imaginary superhuman be- 
ings, but rather as the recognition of a concatenated progression 
of evolving creatures, each influencing and to a certain degree 
controlling those inferior to itself, and in turn controlled by 
those superior to itself. The gods should not be considered as 
personally directing the destiny of individuals. Rather they are 
vast centers of radiant force consciously or unconsciously in- 
fluencing anything that exists or subsists upon their sphere of 
manifestation. For example, a city does not wilfully mold the 
character of its inhabitants; nevertheless it is an active factor in 
determining the character of each individual unit of its popula- 
tion. This simile, while possibly not apparent at first thought, 
is particularly apt, for as cells exist in the human body, so man 
is but a cell in a larger organism which he pleases to term a 
god. The cells of the human body may feel a similar venera- 
tion for man, who in the light of cell intelligence must be a 
boundless and infinitely powerful deity. 

Polytheism therefore may be best defined as a veneration 
for causal agencies. Obedience to the will of the gods was re- 
garded as the basis of human happiness and simply meant that 
only those who lived in harmony with natural law could hope 
lor a tranquil existence. To the ancients it seemed essential that 
intelligence should manifest from an intelligent Creator; in 
other words, the manifesting thought proved the existence of 
the unmanifested Thinker. Intelligence exists in every depart- 
ment of creation. The entire universe is controlled by definite 
laws that evidence the omniscience of the Eternal Thinker. 
From the fountainhead of immeasurable Mind the cogitations 
of Deity stream forth to make fertile with thought the whole 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

area of Being. Broken up by creations as upon a prism, the 
Mind-Light of Deity becomes manifest as an infinite order of 
separate and specialized intelligences. Thus upon the surface 
of the sea of Universal Mind appear numberless foci, each con- 
trolling a definite phase of cosmic activity. The gods are such 
foci; so are men, but to a more limited degree. The sum of 
all these individual minds is the one Universal Mind, so that in 
the last analysis gods, men, and worlds are each fragments of 
the whole. The philosophers of all ages have realized that the 
achievement of perfect wisdom lies in the elevation of the power 
of comprehension to that state where it is able to grasp the 
relation of die parts of existence to the sum of existence, which 
the Buddhists designate the Self. 

All great systems of religious philosophy agree that anterior 
to the gods is the One and Undivided, who is the very founda- 
tion of manifested existence or the first limitation of Absolute 
Being, and who may properly be designated the Father of 
gods and men. We shall now turn our attention to a considera- 
tion of the powers and attributes of this first of all mortals, 
the chief of those who die, the first-born of Absolute Self. In 
seventy-two languages men call this first power God, the first 
and most perfect of creations, the eldest of the old, and the 
Most Ancient of the Most Ancient. God is best defined as the 
first manifestation of Infinite Existence, the limitation of Limit- 
lessness. In his adoration of Deity man is prone to consider 
God as synonymous with ALL in that God is synonymous with 
all that man can hope to comprehend. But behind comprehen- 
sion is that which is incomprehensible, the thr ice-black darkness 
which exists unhonored and unsung through the unmeasured 
duration of eternity, and upon whose placid surface time comes 
and goes, and beginnings and ends are but incidental. To re- 
turn to the symbolism of the preceding lecture, God is the dot, 
the first island floating in and upon the permanent depths of 
Unlimited Existence. God is therefore capable of definition in 
the terms of the Dervish, by whom as chief of beings he is 
denominated the Axis of the world, or that immovable center 
about which all revolves. 

God, the Divine Foundation 


Before it is possible to approach Deity through philosophy, 
it is necessary to nullify the traditional practice prevalent 
throughout Christendom of referring to Deity as a masculine 
potency and ascribing to him most human vices, which, how- 
ever, become virtues by reason of his unquestioned position as 
despotic arbiter of right and wrong. The modern religious 
thinker is no longer inclined to venerate a deity who is simply 
a highly glorified King George III. In that now vanishing 
picturesque period of absolute monarchies when fretful and 
senile princes, arrayed in ridiculous periwigs, ruled by “divine 
right”, God was invested with all the propensities of the ‘‘blood 
royal”, and the celestial hierarchies were metamorphosed into 
landed gentry. 

In spite of the repeated emphasis upon our age of enlighten- 
ment, the majority of people still continue the age-honored 
practice of molding God into a likeness of themselves. The 
reason for this probably lies in the fact that man, possessing 
a spark of Divinity within himself, feels his kinship with God 
and believes himself privileged to rush in where angels fear to 
tread, and give definition to the undefinable. God being, as 
Ingersoll so well expressed it, “the noblest work of man,” we 
find in the attributes of the God people worship, a definite key 
to their own ethical and philosophic status. It is noticeable that 
people with puerile intelligences and petty concerns conceive 
God to be localized as a neighborhood sprite who spends most 
of his time eavesdropping, and who can afford to ignore uni- 
versal concerns while he heaps maledictions upon some poor, 
benighted wretch who did not keep his eyes closed during 
grace! On the other hand, those who have learned to know 
something of the greater verities of life worship a growing God. 
This does not presuppose that God is necessarily increasing, but 
rather that man’s increasing capacity to comprehend ever 
reveals more of the stupendous nature of Divinity. As a person 
approaches a physical object, the object apparently increases in 
size. The same is true of the mind as it approaches the subject of 
its consideration. Hence, to the philosopher God extends 
through the infinitude of time, distance, and thought, and to 
him it is inconceivable that even for a second Deity should 

30 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

descend into a state less dignified than the all-inclusiveness of 
its intrinsic nature. 

Among many ancient peoples God was considered as being 
androgynous, and referred to as the Great Father-Mother. 
When the Creator was represented by an image, various subtle 
devices were employed to indicate its hermaphroditic nature. 
The lsufara of the Hindus is depicted with one side of his body 
male and the other female. In Greek and Roman statuary 
frequent examples arc found of a masculine divinity wearing 
feminine garments and vice versa, or a heavily-bearded god may 
have his hair arranged in a distinctly feminine coiffure. Again, 
the structure of the face of such deities as Bacchus and Dionysus 
often shows a sensitive, feminine countenance disguised by a 
beard or some article of masculine adornment. In other cases 
the feminine counterpart of the deity is considered as a separ- 
ate individuality. For this reason each of the gods was declared 
to have had his consort or feminine aspect of his own being. 
Thus Mithras, the Persian Light-Savior, is considered to be 
masculine, but a certain portion of himself divided from the 
rest becomes Mithra, a feminine and maternal potency. As 
previously noted, in India each god has his shaJ(ti, or feminine 

Among some peoples Diety has been considered for ages 
as primarily feminine, as the Brahmans who refer to God as 
“the Great Mother.” In Roman Catholicism there is also a 
definite tendency to idealize the feminine principle of God 
through the person of the Virgin Mary, who is elevated to a 
most exalted position as "Queen of Heaven ” The custom of 
depicting God either as male or female is the outgrowth of 
man’s oldest form of worship: phallicism. Masculine and fem- 
inine properties are presumed to be positive and negative re- 
spectively. Hence God, being an active or positive agent, was 
conceived to be masculine; nature, being a passive or negative 
body, was regarded as feminine in that it received into itself 
and nurtured to maturity the germinal essences of Divine Life. 
The proponents of a masculine God declare that in the begin- 
ning was activity, the positive cause of existence. On the other 
hand, the proponents of the pre-eminence of the feminine prin- 

God, the Divine Foundation 


ciple declare that activity first issued from a universal matrix; 
consequently that which comes forth from the matrix is subor- 
dinate to its own origin. To a certain degree the Madonna 
expresses this concept, for the man child is creation born out 
of the womb of SPACE — the Holy Mother of Ages. 

To the philosopher, God, as the first manifestation of un- 
manifested and incomprehensible ALL-ness, contains both the 
potencies of the mother and the father in equilibrium. Material 
existence is the result of the hypothetical division taking place 
within the nature of this androgynous Deity, from whose higher 
(or masculine) nature is created the superphysical universe, and 
from whose inferior (or feminine) nature is divided the world 
of form. From this point of view God does not act upon an 
extraneous body, but action and reaction are simply the interac- 
tion of the parts of one universal Deity. The English language 
lacks a proper term with which to designate Deity. The word 
God is comparatively meaningless, as it gives no hint of the 
gender or dignity of Divinity other than merely signifying 
“good.” Since either a masculine or a feminine term is in- 
appropriate and obviously incomplete, and a neuter term en- 
tirely too negative, a word is needed which wall express the 
undivided potencies of both positive and negative in equi- 

When the terms masculine And feminine were used in phil- 
osophic symbolism the ancients gave a certain supremacy to the 
masculine principle for two reasons: (1) as the male was en- 
dowed with greater physical endurance, among primitive peo- 
ples physical strength was considered the most necessary attri- 
bute of Divinity; (2) as the tribal or state government was a 
patriarchate, it necessarily followed that God as the Supreme 
Ruler became dignified as a masculine entity. Those races, 
however, which elevated woman to a high social status were 
more prone to endow Deity with distinctive feminine character- 
istics than were those peoples where woman was regarded as 
little better than a slave. As time went on man thus became 
the personification of the positive principle and woman of the 
negative. This viewpoint, however, will not bear close phil- 

32 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

osophic scrutiny. The so-called inferiority of the female is 
simply a symbolic figure, having no reference whatever to either 
the political or ecclesiastical status of woman. It is surprising, 
however, the extent to which the stigma of this little-understood 
symbolism has influenced both the racial and individual life of 
woman. It is still not uncommon to meet people who, while 
they can give no definite explanation for their feelings, are con- 
vinced that the feminine organism lacks some peculiar psychical 
or soul quality which has been reserved exclusively for mascu- 
line expression. The popular misconception (presumably pro- 
mulgated by the Moslems) that heaven was a place accessible to 
woman as the result of special intercession on the part of her 
husband, while not publicly taught in Christendom, is never- 
theless painfully evident to those able to analyze accurately the 
mental and emotional reactions of the average man. Woman's 
responsibilities as the mother of humanity afford ample evi- 
dence to the profound thinker that she is far from being a 
“negative” creature. The maternal principle was elevated by 
the Greeks to first place, and the Mater Deorum (Mother of 
the Gods) was esteemed worthy of universal veneration. 

The relative superiority or inferiority of either the positive 
or negative principles leads to one inevitable conclusion: name- 
ly, that all manifestation being ordered by Divine Providence, 
it is impossible to determine intelligently the ultimate impor- 
tance of conditions, each of which is essential to all. God as 
the Father impregnates SPACE with his seed; God as the 
Mother receives this seed into herself and protects it through 
the ages necessary for its unfoldment; and God as the Child is 
himself the very seed which as God the Father he sowed. 
Thus is explained the ancient Rosicrucian adage: “All is in All; 
All is All.” 

The commentaries of the Cabalists upon the early Hebrew 
Scriptures contain lengthy dissertations upon the nature of God 
as the first being or power to manifest itself upon the surface of 
AIN SOPH, the limitless and boundless Sea of Eternal Poten- 
tiality. According to the Cabalistic version, there appeared upon 
and in AIN SOPH a great, gleaming, jewel-encrusted crown. 

God, the Divine Foundation 


This John Heydon calls the wise man’s crown set with suns, 
moons, and stars and ornamented with archangels. Ten spark- 
ling sapphires sent streamers of celestial splendor from their 
faceted surfaces, and the great crown, Kether, which was the 
foundation of the world, rested upon the intangible but im- 
movable foundation of the Absolute Divinity. From the crown 
issued forth the multitudes of divine and elementary beings who 
people the forty spheres comprising the Cabalistic universe. 
Thus, to a certain degree, the crown is an ark which, resting 
upon the hypothetical Ararat of Limitless Being — the Mount of 
Eternity — caused to issue from itself by twos and by sevens all 
that pageantry of life which had been preserved within it 
through the pralaya, or deluge of cosmic oblivion. Kether, the 
Ancient of Ancients, the Long Face, the Opened Eye, the Holy 
One, and the Father Foundation, enthroned in the midst of 
Being, wills creation and it is. Kether has neither shape nor 
form imaginable to us, but in an effort to conceive in part 
its dignity we ascribe to it the noblest forms within the 
vista of our comprehension. The sphere is the most perfect of 
all bodies and was therefore chosen by both Pythagoras and 
Plato as the most perfect symbol of “Him who shall remain.” 
It is evident, however, that this Being does not actually resem- 
ble a crown, an opened eye or, as the Cabalists alfirm, a bald 
head. These figures of speech in no way limit or change the 
enduring nature of this first power. Whether we call It Father 
or Mother or Son; whether we consider It as androgynous or 
sexless, human or composite, personal or impersonal. It remains 
forever itself, the first manifestation of unmanifested power. 
It was in the beginning, for Its appearance marks the term of 
beginning and end, and Time has its inception with the estab- 
lishment of this first Divinity. God is as enduring as Time, but 
Time and God are both servants of Infinity. 

The meditation of the mystics upon the nature of the first 
God revealed to them that Deity occupies a position somewhat 
analogous to a focal point. In God the unknowable potentiali- 
ties of Absolute Existence were concentrated, and through the 
nature of Deity pass downward and are distributed as active 
potencies throughout the negative sphere or field of manifests- 

34 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tion. Infinite Being thus flows through God into creation, and 
existence ascends through God to its Infinite Source. God is 
therefore the least material and the most spiritual of all created 
things; of all beings the eldest; of all things the newest. Yet, 
being differentiated from Immortal Being, Deity is mortal 
and subject to ultimate reabsorption into Universal SPACE. In 
the most abstract sense, God is a hypothetical point established 
in the midst of Absolute Self through which It (Absolute Self) 
manifests forth into tangibility and consequent impermanent 
existence. God is the All made One; the universe is the One 
made All. 

Of all the terms with which Deity has been invested there 
is none more simple and yet more consistent with the nature 
of ALL than that used by Plato, who defines God as the un- 
moved, self-moving Mover. God is unmoved in the sense that 
It is the sure foundation which will remain as long as time. 
God is self-moving in that activity is its innate quality. 
God is the all-mover in that it is the life-giving principle 
animating all the structures which combine to form the inferior 
universe. God is the seed in the field of SPACE. From the 
dark philosophic earth of Infinite Being it draws all that it 
manifests. In the symbolism of the Far East, God comes as a 
lotus bud upon the surface of the Great Sea which, after liv- 
ing its appointed span, dies back into the infinite Ocean of 
Chaos. G<xi is the first-born, the infinite Monad so well de- 
scribed by Democritus in his development of the atomic theory. 

Now comes the legitimate question: If Absolute Being is 
unlimited and unconditioned with all its forces in a state of 
suspension, what causes these periodic centers or deities to come 
into being and what law governs their continuance and ultim- 
ate dissolution? In other words, if the Absolute possesses 
neither will nor activity in a centralized or manifesting state, 
how is the genesis of gods and worlds to be explained ? Why 
does not the Absolute remain throughout duration in the same 
unknowing and all-pervading state? 

It is difficult to conceive of a perfect state giving birth to 
an imperfect state, and yet, according to philosophy, this is 

God, the Divine Foundation 


exactly what occurs when Universal Being supports ephemeral 
creation upon the surface of itself, or, as the Hindu mythologist 
would say, Varaha (the boar incarnation of Vishnu) elevates 
cosmos upon its tusks. The answer to the problem of First 
Cause has confounded several otherwise excellent systems of 
theology, and the solution advanced by mystical philosophy is 
one of the most daring postulates of the human mind. Yet for 
man with his limited intelligence to ponder too deeply upon 
such abstract mysteries is highly dangerous, for the solidarity 
of thought itself is jeopardized. 

Sir Francis Bacon, one of the greatest thinkers of the modern 
world, realized how fatal to the success of the seeker after truth 
is the assumption of knowledge. Knowledge he declared to 
be the end, not the beginning, of the rational quest after facts. 
Much of the body of truth, however, is ascertained by the aid 
of certain fundamental postulations which must then run the 
gauntlet of observation and experimentation. Unable to de- 
lineate the boundaries or profiles of Universal Cause, the mind 
must necessarily reduce cosmic phenomena to terms apprehen- 
sible to human reason. To cope with the problems of the ab- 
stract the mind must first discover in the concrete the analogy 
of the abstract. Having found a simple natural analogy, the 
philosopher employs the most basic of all the Hermetic axioms: 
namely, that which is below is like unto that which is above. 
The law of analogy is the most powerful weapon ever placed 
in the hands of man with which to solve the riddle of the 
Unknown, for by analogy he is able to classify the orders of 
invisible life, and chart that vast interval between the limitation 
of human nature and the limitlessness of Divine nature 

With the assistance of the law of analogy, let us then ap- 
proach the problem of First Cause. Sleep is a state somewhat 
resembling death; in fact St. Paul definitely relates them to 
each other. Death, moreover, is analogous to the state of the 
Absolute in that it is the cessation of that activity which de- 
stroys the tranquillity of infinite duration. Again, no sense of 
time, place, or condition is apparent during sleep. A few seconds 
of a distorted dream may represent a lifetime in which persons 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

and places come and go with kaleidoscopic speed. Speed also 
partakes of the nature of the Absolute in that the objective 
world disappears; the sleeper rests in an unknowing state and 
an almost Nirvanic trance-like condition controls the function- 
ing parts. During sleep there is neither will nor rational 
activity in the objective world; oblivious to the entire panorama 
of existence, the objective soul lies in a state which is neither 
light nor darkness and which defies intelligent definition. 

Sleep, however, docs not override the claims of habit. If a 
person is accustomed to awake at a certain hour, when that 
hour arrives consciousness seemingly rises out of unconscious- 
ness with no apparent motivation other than the subtle, innate 
urge of habit. The individual wakes, and grasping with drowsy 
fingers the sense perceptions, assumes the labors of the day. 
The mind was never told to rouse the sleeper, nor did he have 
any realization that some intangible agent would at a certain 
time dissipate the state of dreaming and force the life back into 
wakeful activity. The sleeper suddenly opens his eyes and 
discovers it to be the usual rising hour. Habit is seemingly 
stronger than the state of sleep, for it is something that awakens 
the sleeper even when he cannot wake himself. Therefore, says 
th Ancient Doctrine, the comings and goings of creation upon 
the surface of infinite expanse are the impulses of the law of 
periodicity . Thus periodicity may be defined as the habit of 
Infinite SPACE . Habit causes the unknown elements and 
agencies comprising the Absolute periodically to spawn forth 
worlds and to draw them back again into itself periodically. 
Habit causes the sleeping universe to awaken after the Seven 
Nights of Rest, and after its Seven Days of Labor habit and 
necessity again cause the tired creation to sink back into the 
arms of SPACE. 

Though not a thinking substance, SPACE contains the po- 
tentiality of thought. Thought is simply one of the numerous 
limited expressions of SPACE and does not come into mani- 
festation until the creative processes have limited the ALL to 
that condition known as intelligence. That is the reason why 
the law of periodicity, or the spontaneous awakening of life, 

God, the Divine Foundation 


is necessary, in that SPACE possesses no tangible urge or force 
other than habit, which is itself a purely hypothetical term. 
It is the supreme and eternal habit of Absolute Being to create 
and also to take creation back again into itself. Thus the out- 
pouring and the inflowing may be likened to the ebb and flow 
of an eternal sea. Creation sinking into SPACE is no better 
able to conceive of the Absolute than is man to conceive of the 
substance of sleep. Nor do the Seven Sleepers upon awakening 
from their ages of slumber have any more concept of the con- 
dition from which they have emerged than has man when he 
rises from his slumbers. It is a daring thought to define cosmic 
law as the habit of SPACE, but the urges which immutably 
direct all things to their predestined end are thus explained. 
Periodically upon the face of Not-Being (which is ALL Being) 
there appear centers of life — the chakras or seeds of future 
worlds. The swastika is their proper symbol, for it is the whirl- 
ing across that represents the centralizing motion of the Eternal 
ALL. This first all-inclusive bubble, a magnificent iridescent 
sphere floating gracefully through eternity, is called God, and 
within its transparent shell creation lives and moves and has its 
being. Its purpose finally fulfilled, the bubble bursts and dis- 
appears, its parts are reabsorbed into the surrounding apparent 

All that man is or can ever hope to he depends upon his 
concept of God. No individual is greater than the God he 
worships, nor is he capable of worshipping a concept of God 
greater than himself. Thus is established a vicious circle. The 
noble concept of Baron von Leibnitz that the universe is made 
up of monads or metaphysical germs all contained within one 
great Monad may be contrasted with the theological concept 
of the last century which conceived the Deity to be a married 
man who took strange delight (as Voltaire has noted) in watch- 
ing his creation eat the body of his beloved Son at the sacra- 
ment. Mans concept of God must pass through three definite 
states symbolized by the dot, the line, and the circle, which 
received so much consideration in the preceding lecture. The 
lowest concept of God is as a personality, a physical entity, 
whose symbol is the circumference of the circle. Superior to 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

this concept is that of God as an individuality, a mental entity, 
whose symbol is the line. The third and highest definable 
concept is that of God as a spiritual entity, a permeating and 
diffusing life-giving principle, whose symbol is the dot. But 
above all these concepts and superior to God even as a spiritual 
entity is that concept of Absolute SPACE — formless and defini- 
tionless— whose only symbol is the blank sheet of paper. 

In every philosophic system God is either the beginning or 
the end of the chain of thought. We may invest our concept 
of Deity with certain qualities and conditions and, accepting 
that as a starting point, seek to grasp the necessary process 
involved in the creation of the phenomenal sphere. Or we 
may posit as our working formula certain divine manifestation 
in the material universe, and by induction seek to understand 
the nature of a Deity capable of producing such phenomena 
out of its own nature. Thus in our investigation we either 
begin with the dot and travel toward the circumference, or 
we begin with the circumference and travel toward the dot. 
On the one hand we posit a Deity and then, imagining 
ourselves to be that Deity, construct a universe; on the other 
hand we posit a minute atom and through an infinite series 
of combinations and unfoldments trace manifesting life back 
to its spiritual source. Antiquity posited Divinity and then 
constructed the universe; the twentieth century firsf posits the 
universe and then looks for God. As God, however, is not 
obvious to the crass materialist, he is often entirely eliminated 
in the findings of that particular type of scientist. You will 
remember that upon reading Laplace’s great work upon astron- 
omy Napoleon made the remark, “But you make no mention 
of God,” to which the great scientist haughtily replied, “Sire, 
I have no need for that hypothesis.” 

Generaly speaking, the elimination of God by the scientist 
is only a passing symptom. It occurs at that stage where the 
scientist, like the precocious child, upon reaching the summit 
of Fool’s Mountain decides that he himself is sufficient to pos- 
tulate a cause for the universe and is qualified to manipulate 
it according to his own whims. Upon essaying the role of 

God, the Divine Foundation 


general manager of cosmos, man invariably discovers that the 
task is far too arduous, and so eventually returns to God his 
universe. Modern thought, which is basically skeptical, declares 
God to exist only when discovered. As yet, however, none has 
discovered Deity. The only discovery thus far made is the 
absolute necessity of a First Cause, and this paramount need 
for such a Supreme Activity is conclusive proof of the existence 
of such a force or being. 

To summarize, the modern world bases its entire philosophy 
of life upon the reality of the visible, whereas the ancient world 
conceived the invisible to be the real. Thus we have two dia- 
metrically opposing viewpoints. In the final analysis it is evi- 
dent that the viewpoint of antiquity is correct. In the first 
place, the visible is actually such a small part of existing Nature, 
it is inconceivable that it should be accorded a position of first 
importance. All bodies float in a vast sea of SPACE, forming 
but a fractional part of the contents of this great sphere of 
Being. The invisible life must be superior to its vehicle of 
manifestation. Therefore the great Reality — life — cannot ac- 
tually be considered a part of the phenomenal universe. It is 
a strange but fundamental truth that the least permanent thing in 
the universe is a rock, and the most permanent is so-called 
empty space; for the time will come when the rock will cease 
to be, but space will never pass away. Form can be destroyed 
and is ever changing, but space, by its very nature, is indestruct- 
ible and forever the same. 

We now come to the nature of emptiness . Emptiness merely 
implies the absence of form; but the formless active agent, 
being all-permeating, fills all existence. You may pour the 
water out of a glass and then declare the glass to be empty 
because apparently it contains nothing. Any scientist, how- 
ever, will assure you that the empty glass contains a sufficient 
number of atoms to blow the earth out of its orbit if their com- 
bined energy could be properly directionalized. Emptiness, 
therefore, is paradoxically an incomprehensible fullness. Phil- 
osophically considered, the absence of form means impossibility 
of destruction. That which has no form cannot have the form 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

taken away. Emptiness, so-called, is consequently more per- 
manent than fullness. In its conventional sense, fullness means 
that the container is filled to capacity with physical elements. 
The true fullness, however, is that area which is completely 
filled with spiritual and eternal agencies. Of such a nature is 
SPACE which, far from being empty, may be likened to a 
spiritual solid, whereas the physical world may be best described 
as a spiritual vacuum. 

According to the Platonists, all the creations manifesting 
outward from the nature of God are arranged in the order of 
their proximity to First Cause. Those nearer the source of life 
partake more of the celestial effulgence than those more distant; 
in other words, the light radiating from a flame more closely 
resembles the flame at the source than at the extremity of its 
rays. The order of the gods is therefore determined by their 
proximity to the central creative fire of the universe, which is 
termed the Altar of Vesta or the Tower of the All-Wise Father. 
The gods arc not to be considered as independent entities or 
forces, but rather as monads with numerous subordinate powers 
and intelligences dependent upon them. Each deity is, in turn, 
a dependency of a superior being, until at last all unite in a 
common dependency upon the benevolence of First Cause. 
Thus each individual deity may be symbolized by the dot, the 
line, and the circle. As a dot, each god is the central monad 
of a host of inferior dependencies; as a line, each god is a 
streaming radiance nourishing its subordinate parts; and as a 
circle or circumference each god is a fractional part of a still 
greater monadic entity. The majesty of these divinities is there- 
fore established by the law of relativity. Each god is the father 
of a multitudinous progeny which exists within its own nature 
and which must unquestioningly obey its dictates. Each deity 
is, in turn, part of the progeny of a still higher and more exalted 
power to which it renders homage. Thus each deity is both a 
creator and a creation in one. As man ascends the ladder 
uniting effect with cause, he approaches ever closer to conscious 
realization of Source. He therefore passes through the angelic 
choirs described by Dante in his Paradisw. These choirs in 

God, the Divine Foundation 


concatenated circles about the flaming throne of the Eternal 
Father represent the orders of divine emanations. Thus the 
central flame is ever surrounded by a many-ringed nimbus of 
subordinate lights supporting all creation. 

Let us approach the problem of macrocosmic interdepen- 
dency through a consideration of certain microcosmic realities. 
The human body may be considered either as a single unit or 
as a host of minute living organisms combining in accordance 
with certain definite laws. Each individual cell is a living and 
immortal creature and it also has been definitely established 
that various organs of the human body possess at least a selective 
intelligence. Yet all these separate, living parts are suspended, 
as it were, from the single monad of the human heart. The 
heart is to the body what the sun is to the solar system and 
First Cause to existence. If one of the cells within the body 
dies, the body still lives, but if the chief governing monad 
ceases to function, then all the cells or dependent parts partake 
of the general dissolution. As the life of the body is central- 
ized in the heart even though a general life is diffused through- 
out the body, so, while life may be discovered in every creature 
existing in the manifested sphere, all these subordinate lives 
are swept to a common destruction if the Great Monad upon 
which they depend be removed. The lesser lives have their 
origin in the greater and must always remain its dependents. 
Deity as the first Monad of the world is the foundation of 
the universe, the Sacred Island, sometimes analogous to Sham- 
ballah, the City of the Gods. Upon this Monad is erected all 
creation; with its dissolution the far-reaching and diversified 
phenomena collapse like a house of cards. Therefore God may 
be defined as that upon which a lesser part depends; our God 
is the Monad from whose nature we as lesser monads hang by 
hypothetical threads. Hence there are many gods, for all be- 
ings, both great and small, hang as dependencies upon the 
natures of superior forms of life. 

Next we must consider the philosophic principle of priority. 
Of a number of things related to each other, that which is 
fundamental is primary or first, and the rest are dependencies. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

For example, a ship may carry a large and diversified cargo. 
If any part of the cargo be thrown overboard, the safety of the 
ship is not necessarily endangered. If, however, the ship should 
sink, all its cargo goes down too. Thus the cargo depends 
upon the ship for its preservation, but the ship does not depend 
upon the cargo. The priority of either a science or a living 
organism is established by the degree of its fundamental im- 
portance to all other sciences and organisms. The destruction 
of priority automatically annihilates all its dependencies. If you 
destroy that which is first, that which is secondary also ceases. 
If you destroy that which is secondary you in no way injure 
chat which is first; you simply limit some phase of its manifes- 
tation. Pythagoras used the science of mathematics to illustrate 
the principle of priority. Remove mathematics and you destroy 
every form of human knowledge which is in any way de- 
pendent upon numbers or the theory of mathematics. For 
example, consider the relationship between mathematics and 
music. The science of harmonics is wholly dependent upon 
mathematics. If you remove the knowledge of music from the 
world, you destroy a certain phase of mathematics, but the 
body of numbers is left uninjured. On the other hand, if you 
remove mathematics from the world, the entire theory of 
harmonics perishes. Of the two, mathematics is primary 
and music secondary. Another simple illustration: The tree 
has one trunk and many branches. The branches are depen- 
dencies of the trunk, for if one of the branches be removed 
the life of the tree is not seriously impaired and the other 
branches remain unaffected. Destroy the trunk, however, and 
all the branches die together. In the search for knowledge the 
highest wisdom is first to learn those things which have priority. 
To learn mathematics, for example, is to possess already a cer- 
tain knowledge of all sciences, because it is the first among 
the sciences. For this reason the Greeks and Egyptians de- 
manded of all disciples seeking initiation into the Mysteries an 
understanding of mathematics. 

The identity of first things can be determined by applying 
the principle of priority. Things are considered of greater or 
lesser importance according to what they depend upon and 

God, the Divine Foundation 


what is dependent upon them. Man is master over those forms 
of life dependent upon him, but a slave to that infinity of forces 
which he depends upon for every expression and manifestation. 
The gods are merely symbolic representations of states of rela- 
tive dependency. The gods are greater than man because they 
represent the members of existence upon which man depends. 
Such a chain of dependency is well represented by the institu- 
tion of feudalism. A country was divided among a group of 
nobles whose relative importance depended upon the extent of 
their individual domains. A certain number of baronies con- 
stituted an earldom, and a group of earldoms, in turn, formed 
a dukedom. Above the dukedom was the principality, and 
over all the king, who on a smaller scale was the god of his 
nation. Greatness depends upon constructive and destructive 
power — destructive in the sense of changing rather than anni- 

A further thought concerning the term dependency . Our 
hands and feet are dependent upon us for their animating prin- 
ciple; we are dependent upon them for the expression of certain 
innate desires and attitudes. Our hands and feet protect us, 
but they are obviously less than that which they protect. They 
may be likened to vassals or stewards. In the days of knight- 
hood, when knights went into battle they were attended by- 
esquires or stewards who rode behind their masters to free them 
from their heavy armor in the event they were unhorsed, or 
to arrange for a ransom with their conqueror. In ancient phi- 
losophy the gods represent the hands and feet and vital mem- 
bers of the cosmic body. Like the cherubim of the Jews, they 
run back and forth in the whirlwinds, executing the orders of 
the Most High even as our busy fingers carry out the dictates 
of our brain. The one Supreme Power manifesting throughout 
the cosmic organism should be considered as manifesting 
throughout all created things, each of which is a faculty or 
member of minor or major importance. 

An interesting story came to our attention of an East Indian 
pundit who was trying to explain to a rather bigoted Christian 
missionary the reason for the great number of heads appearing 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

upon the shoulders of certain Hindu divinities. “My dear sir,” 
exclaimed the missionary, “yonder many-headed image is a 
ghastly caricature of a god, and how can any people who have 
risen above an aboriginal state worship such a grotesque and 
unnatural concept of God?” the pundit smilingly replied: “You 
do not understand our method of symbolizing divine agencies. 
In your own scriptures it is plainly implied that God is all 
there is and that in him we live and move and have our being. 
God is the heavens and the earth and all the creatures that in- 
habit them. You have a head, I have a head, all human beings 
have heads. Has God, therefore, not as many heads as there 
are heads, as many hands as there are hands, and as many feet 
as there are feet? Are not all minds his mind, all thoughts his 
thoughts, and all works accomplished for him done by him 
through his manifested parts? Therefore, my dear sir, our 
failure is not for lack of comprehension but because no artist 
alive is able to carve enough heads to adequately represent the 
nature of the Creator.” 

Philosophy is not solely an intellectual reasoning process 
whereby certain definite conclusions are reached concerning 
macrocosmic and microcosmic realities. Philosophy utterly fails 
in its mission unless that mystical elixir — understanding — tinc- 
tures the whole. Understanding is the rarest of all faculties. 
It is a subtle power which adds to the intellectual concept a 
definite stimulating realization or intuitive grasp of the funda- 
mental elements involved in any problem and their relation- 
ship to each other. Understanding is the ultimate stage of 
knowledge; it is the perfect realization of the purpose and 
meaning of things. For two thousand years the men of the 
church have been studying Christianity; orators have shouted 
its precepts from the housetops; the Crusaders carried the 
message with the sword, the monk with the crucifix, and the 
Holy Inquisition with the firebrand. For nearly two thousand 
years men and women of devout spirit have prayed and fasted 
and meditated; they have even died as martyrs that the spirit 
of their faith might go on. Of this host of propagandists of 
Christianity, most had either an intellectual or an emotional 

God, the Divine Foundation 


concept of the Master Jesus and his mission. Only here and 
there was one who understood, and too often his fate was to 
fall before the mob of enthusiastic but misunderstanding zealots. 
Today there are innumerable truths which remain unrevealed 
to the seeker after knowledge because he does not possess the 
philosophic open -sesame. To the understanding mind all doors 
open; to those without understanding life must ever remain a 
tormenting enigma. 

At the beginning of this chapter is a diagram showing the 
god Brahma as the creator of the universe. From his three 
heads, representative of the triune nature of First Cause, extend 
three streamers of force outward to form the foundations of 
the three worlds. In modern Hindu mysticism Brahma is 
generally represented with four heads and occasionally with five, 
one of which is supposed to have been cut of by Shiva. The four- 
headed Brahma is a demiurgic god, being the foundation of 
the four elements. The three-headed Brahma here referred to 
signifies the abstract Creative Logos, or the dot, manifesting 
as primitive potencies the threefold darkness of the Absolute, 
from whose incomprehensibility Brahma is but one degree re- 
moved. The three mouths of Brahma breathe forth the sacred 
whirlwinds of cosmic breath, which become incarnate in the 
universe as the creative Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, 
and which correspond to the first trinity of all peoples. From 
one mouth issues the breath which is to become spirit, which, 
after passing through numerous modifications, manifests as the 
causal agent throughout the worlds. From the second mouth 
streams that force which is to be the intermediary state through- 
out the universe. This state is most tangible as mind or that 
mysterious thinking air which, permeating the objective think- 
ing structure, manifests as continuity of reason, perception, and 
ultimately apperception. The third head breathes forth the 
Maker of worlds and his angels, and from these outpouring 
essences are fashioned the objective spheres and their diversified 

In mystical philosophy the dot, or first emanation, is pre- 
sumed to have three faces. The key to their meaning is at once 

46 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

apparent if the word phases is substituted for faces . The dot 
contains three phases of one power, yet in an undifferentiated 
state. Thus God in mystic Christianity is the dot, while the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are his phases, or the first mani- 
fested Trimurti. The three phases or faces are sometimes 
referred to as the three modes of Being. From these primary 
modes manifests an infinitude of complex organisms. Between 
this cosmological mystery and the allegory of Noah’s ark there 
is a certain analogy. Noah is the dot, his three sons are the 
faces, and their wives are the shakti, or negative expressions of 
these faces. As from the positive pole of Being there is mani- 
fested this triad of agencies, so from the negative pole of Being 
is manifested the quaternary of demiurgic forces. The two 
combine to form the sacred septenary so appropriately symbol- 
ized in the Masonic apron with its triangle rising out of or 
falling into (according to the degree) the square. The descent 
of the 3 into the 4 properly symbolizes the ensoul ment of the 
world by its spiritual cause; the ascent of the 3 out of the 4, the 
resurrection of life from its sepulcher of form. 

The process by which the entire objective universe is caused 
to issue forth from the first monadic dot can be likened to that 
process by which the oak tree emerges from the acorn. It is 
unreasonable to assume that the oak tree manifests any quali- 
ties that were not originally in its seed, yet that so much should 
have come from apparently so little is indeed a mystery. The 
oak tree is in the acorn in potentiality, yet when these poten- 
tialities come into objective existence they seem vastly greater 
than their source. According to the Oriental mystics, the uni- 
verse is an inverted tree. The seed is the dot from which 
springs forth the World Tree whose branches are the gods 
and wbcue leaves are creation. This is the great tree of the Cabal- 
ists and also the illusional banyan of the Hindus, for it exists 
but a moment upon the substances of Eternity and then falls 
back again into SPACE. 

From the three mouths of the first Trimurti issue powers: 
spiritual, intellectual, and material; divine, human, and animal; 
also die creative elements of air, fire, and water, air being 

God, the Divine Foundation 


symbolic of the intangible Father, fire of the radiant Son, and 
water of the Demiurgus who seeks with material impulses to 
quench the fire of spiritual light. These three are personified 
as the Builders of the world. The Father is King Solomon, 
the Son is Hiram Abiff, and the Holy Spirit is Hiram of Tyre, 
who furnishes the materials. 

Having thus established the fundamental nature of the dot, 
we now pass to the constitution of the line wherein is revealed 
the mystery of the Savior-God of all ages and the second 
Principle of existence. 

In tl 
tW exti 

the interplay of the worlds 

In this figure is set forth the constitution of the Intermediate Sphere, by which 
1 extremes C i Spirit and Matter are reconciled and the harmony of the universe 
red. The ancients unite in the recognition of three worlds existing within one 
and unlimited state. Philosophy is the science of the relationships of these 


Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 

T IGHT is the most appropriate symbol of manifesting spirit 
*** because it is the inherent nature of light to radiate, and 
this outpouring is represented by a simple vertical line drawn 
downward from the dot, or heart of existence. An analysis of 
the flame reveals its threefold constitution and their correspon- 
dence to the three phases of the dot considered in the preceding 
lecture. The blue (or nearly colorless) heart of the candle 
flame signifies the dark, hidden Father; the golden radiance 
surrounding this area is the bright, flaming Son who bears 
witness before the worlds of his unknowable Father; and at 
the circumference is a reddish, smoky flame representative of 
the Demiurgus, or Lord of the World. Because of its triune 
nature, fire for ages has been employed as the symbol of the 
threefold God. Pyrolatry is one of the oldest forms of religious 

Light can also be symbolized by a globe, the outer surface 
of which is the hypothetical point where the rays of light 
terminate. In reality, light is a rate of vibration pouring off, or 
outward, from the heart of the vibratory ray or cause of vibra- 
tion, which must be symbolized by the flame. For the sake 
of the analogy, the heart of the flame can be compared to the 
dot; the radiant light pouring from the flame to the line; and 
the outer darkness which absorbs the light, to the circumference 
or outer limit of manifestation. Consider for a moment the 
relationship of the ray to its source. The true flame is invisible 
and superphysical, but it is made discernible to the eye through 
a rate of vibration called light, and to other sense perceptions 
through a rate of vibration called heat. Life, light, and heat 
are the trinity, with life as the Father, light as the Son, and heat 


50 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

as the Demiurgus. It may well be said, therefore, that no 
man hath seen the Father, for the transcendency of Being is 
concealed behind a flaming ring which blinds all who gaze 
upon it. 

Radiance is the ceaseless effort of a central force to expand; 
it is the continual pouring off of sparks from an endless 
supply. The dot may be likened to a tube through which a 
mysterious spiritual fluid ever pours. The moment this fluid 
is free from the restraining pressure of the tube it has a tend- 
ency, like water, to expand and spread out in the form of a 
huge fan. Activity is continually manifesting throughout the 
universe. There is a never-ending battle between the effort of 
all life to expand and the effort of substance to resist expansion. 
A concrete example of this particular point may be helpful. By 
means of experimental balloons it is possible to estimate atmos- 
pheric conditions above the earth’s surface. As the toy balloon 
ascends it expands until at an altitude of approximately eleven 
and one-half miles it will explode, in spite of every precaution 
that may be taken. The reason for this is that the outside 
pressure decreases as the atmosphere grows less dense, until 
finally the expanding quality of the gas inside the ballon meets 
with so little outside resistance that the walls of the ballon are 
unable to support the pressure. We have present in Nature, 
therefore, a continual expansion from within which is offset by 
a continual pressure from without. Thus the physical nature 
of every organism is particularly adapted to the pressure of its 
environment. Man’s entire evolutionary progress has fitted him 
to sustain the atmospheric pressure at the earth’s surface. The 
moment he leaves this atmospheric environment he must re- 
adjust himself, and beyond a certain point he cannot exist. 
The aviator has felt every part of his body racked with this 
effort to meet the ever decreasing pressure of higher altitudes. 
For similar reasons explorers climbing lofty mountains fre- 
quently suffer from bursting blood vessels. The pressure at the 
earth’s surface is not as great, however, as that beneath the 
ocean, where the most powerful apparatus is required to with- 
stand the pressure of the water. As man’s physical existence 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 51 

is confined to a certain stratum of air pressure, so spiritually he 
is likewise limited to a definite plane of cosmic activity. 

The denser the substances surrounding the individual, the 
greater the pressure from without. Hence materiality continu- 
ally checks the natural expansion of the spiritual and intel- 
lectual self. The less material the environment, the greater the 
opportunity for the spiritual nature to expand, until finally 
at the gate of the Absolute the little globe of individual con- 
sciousness — like the toy balloon— reaches the point where there 
is no outward pressure whatsoever. The shell itself is symbolic 
of a degree of external pressure, but when all pressure has been 
removed, consciousness now freed from limitation is diffused 
again throughout the nature of existence. Hence the Absolute 
represents the vanishing point of external pressure. The cir- 
cumference of the sphere of being is the plane established by 
the inward pressure of substance and the outward pressure of 
consciousness. As the scope of consciousness is enlarged the 
power of expansion increases and the walls of substance are 
pushed farther back. Conversely, as consciousness is denied 
expression and its impulses become weaker, the circle of sub- 
stance approaches ever closer to the center of consciousness. 

Philosophically defined, growth is the struggle of life to 
control its environment or, rather, to include more and more 
of its environment within the area of its own self-knowing. 
Perfect freedom of expression is the goal of all life. All things, 
both animate and inanimate, are striving for that freedom 
which lies in perfect expression. It naturally follows that there 
is but one freedom— perfection. Every creature is a slave to 
those parts of itself as yet unresponsive to the impulses of its 
internal life principle. Every individual consequently is a slave 
to his own material constitution; he is a prisoner held in by 
walls of unresponsive substance. Thus the natural expression 
of the inner life principle is to refine and improve the qualities 
of its outer vehicles that it may the more easily control and 
direct them. It is evident that die more refined the substance, 
the more easily it is influenced by subtle forces. By a certain 
definite organization, consciousness equips its outer nature with 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

organs of responsiveness, so that the lower self comes ever more 
nearly en rapport with its own Cause. A common example 
is the radio, which is a mechanical contrivance constructed ac- 
cording to definite scientific principles which enable it to pick 
up vibratory rates of sound inaudible to even the delicate 
mechanism of the human ear. 

Returning to the symbolism of the line, the line is a poten- 
tial cosmic nerve ray designed to confer consciousness upon the 
area covered by its tiny threadlike fingers. Man is slowly ac- 
quiring control over his physical body by ever increasing the 
acuteness of his nervous organism, for by his nerves the various 
parts of his body are tied together. The nerve is an impulse 
carrier which gives man consciousness over a certain area of 
otherwise unresponsive substance. Man’s nerves function far 
more acutely now than in ages past; they are becoming much 
more sensitive and bring to man much knowledge concerning 
the nature of the substance composing his world. As the result 
of this increasing sensitiveness, nervous disorders arc increasing, 
for the finer the mechanism the greater the likelihood of de- 
rangement. The Romans termed the line Mercury, the messen- 
ger of the gods. Like the lines of the telegraph and telephone, 
the nerves bring the distant parts of the organism into direct 
contact with the central station of the brain. The nerves do 
not necessarily end at the outer circumference of the physical 
body, but in the form of etheric streamers extend outward into 
the aura, or intangible atmosphere surrounding the physical 
body. Here they continue to function in a limited degree as 
impulse carriers. These etheric nerve ends arc continually con- 
tacting forces and forms both visible and invisible, and convey- 
ing certain indefinite impulses back to the brain. Many of our 
so-called "hunches” and unaccountable antipathies or affinities 
are the result of curious reactions set up by these etheric nerve 
threads which bind every part of the lower organism of man, 
visible and invisible, into one solid body. 

The line or ray coming out of the dot may be likened to a 
primitive nerve giving to the dot a consciousness of the nature 
of its environment. It thus becomes the messenger between 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 53 

the center and the circumference of life. The line is the out- 
pouring of cause into effect. The line permeates its environ- 
ment with the qualities of the first innate life principle of the 
central dot; it is the effort of the center to include the cir- 
cumference within itself. The phenomena of growth represent 
the gradual effort of life, which is innately perfect, to objectify 
its perfection and blend itself with the perfection of all. In this 
manner the subjective potentialities of life gradually become 
objective potencies or powers. Growth is really the bringing 
of the inside of life to the outside; a gesture from within 
outward; the unceasing effort of the active agent to commu- 
nicate its conscious qualities to its unconscious environment 
The ultimate of growth is the bringing into conscious expres- 
sion all of the seed germs of power lying latent in every atom 
of existence. The dot contains within itself all potentialities 
as the symbolic acorn contains the oak tree. Every leaf that 
in the future will grow upon the oak tree exists as a potential 
power in the germinal essences of the acorn. Growth merely 
brings these latent potentialities into active manifestation by 
building into them material elements which make them ap- 
parent to physical sense perceptions. The fundamental reason 
for this growth is the active urge to express the potencies of 
self and escape the imprisonment of limited vehicles. 

Pythagoras said that when the triangle is once established 
any problem is already two-thirds solved. The foundation of 
all existence is triangular. We are a threefold creation; the 
triangle of man consists of his spirit, his body, and the link 
connecting them. In its macrocosmic sense there is a divine 
creation, an elemental creation, and the link connecting them. 
Life is a divine, eternal principle; matter (except in its absolute 
sense) is a temporal and transitory thing. These two are sepa- 
rated by the whole interval of being. They are the opposites, 
and between them is a neutral field where one acts upon the 
other, for in their self-sufficient states the two have little in 
common. Divine nature is essentially a part of the divine crea- 
tion; physical nature a part of the material creation. In ancient 
symbolism it was declared that the two seas — the ocean of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Divinity above and the ocean of Nature below — were divided, 
“the waters which were under the firmament from the waters 
which were above the firmament.” 

The universe of divine energy above and the universe of 
material energy below are the substances from which are ex- 
tracted respectively the spirit and the body of man. The spirit 
is an atom of divine substance, the body an atom of material 
substance, and the higher vests itself in the lower and the pro- 
duct is a living thing. Presuming spirit to be the actuating 
part and matter the part worked upon, it will be evident that 
the spirit cannot control the body without the assistance of a 
connecting tissue wherein the irreconcilable opposites are 
blended. Thus in order that the abstractly spiritual may affect 
the concretely material, a great hierarchy of mediatory agencies 
must be established. In certain of the ancient Mystery schools 
it was taught that there were eighty thousand degrees of intelli- 
gence intervening between absolute consciousness and absolute 
unconsciousness, each degree representing a mediatory element 
or condition. Considered as a unit, these degrees represent the 
middle or neutral field. In alchemy mercury, or quicksilver, 
is used to symbolize this blending element, because mercury 
accepts into its own nature other metals. In mythology the god 
Mercury was the mediator or neutral power serving as the 
messenger between the gods above and mortal man below. 

Still another pair of opposites must be considered: divine 
truth and human ignorance. Above (in the sense of proximate 
to cause) is divine Reality, the one great need of all creation; 
below (in the sense of distant from Source) is man, who may 
achieve salvation only through the attainment of Reality. Here 
are both the living water and the empty bowl waiting to re- 
ceive it. But absolute truth and ignorant humanity are di- 
vided by a vast interval of understanding. Truth knows no 
man ; man k nows no truth. Truth is that mysterious, infinite, 
boundless Reality; man a mere worm existing in minutes, hours, 
and days, and spending most of them foolishly. Here the sum 
of the knowable is the dot, gross ignorance the circumference 
of the circle. That which is necessary to unite these two 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


and thus blend them into the perfection of type is the line, the 
mediator between cause and effect. 

A simple analogy of the dot, the line, and the circle with the 
processes of knowledge may be traced in the following manner. 
In the center of the circle is the dot representing a fact; at the 
circumference of the circle stands a student desirous of learn- 
ing this fact; between these two is an interval filled with a 
number of agencies, any one of which (in many cases the sense 
perceptions) may become the mediator between the knowable 
and the one capable of knowing. In order to gain a more 
extensive understanding of existence with its vast number of 
physically apparent facts, the interval is occupied by an elaborate 
educational system, and thus between knowledge and the 
student body stands the professor who acts as mediator and 
assists in the dissemination of the subject matter. 

Everywhere in Nature is to be found a mediating principle 
which is capable of contacting both extremes simultaneously, or 
at least intermittently. If is most difficult to unite the abstract 
and the concrete in a single nature, consequently you may 
hear such remarks as “Genius is eccentric,” “A wonderful man, 
but—”, etc. Those who possess abstract knowledge can seldom 
clothe it in words understandable to others. As man attempts 
to elevate himself spiritually he gradually separates himself 
from his material environment. To have a stature great enough 
to raise its head to heaven and still keep its feet upon the earth 
is the proof of true enlightenment. If wisdom is to instruct 
ignorance, it must be capable of appreciating the state of igno- 
rance as truly as the state of knowledge. If the mind has raised 
itself above the consciousness of ignorance, it will never be able 
to impart wisdom to the ignorant. To instruct the minds of 
others it is necessary to approach them along the lines of the 
familiar; they must be reached on a thought level commen- 
surate with their own, otherwise they cannot grasp the problems 

Since in the universal scheme the divine mediator must 
have the consciousness of both the upper and the lower, phi- 
losophy postulates three manners of beings: gods, who are great 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

centers of intelligent power; men, who are little centers with 
marvelous potentialities; and god-men or man-gods who act as 
mediators between the superior and the inferior. Thus is re- 
vealed the meaning of that enigmatic statement of the Pythag- 
oreans that there were three kinds of creatures: gods, men, and 
Pythagoras, the latter being representative of the mediator who 
was able to bind together the superior and the inferior creations. 
In a similar manner the identity of Jesus (according to the 
Gnostic traditions) is clarified, for in some places he is referred 
to as the Son of God and in others as the Son of man. As the 
Son of man he ascended out of the earth to the inheritance of 
a heavenly state (heaven in the sense of accomplishment) ; as the 
Son of God he veiled his sense of knowing in a mortal vehicle 
and descended from the mysteries of the higher aeons into the 
state of human ignorance, and was thus able to converse with 
mortals upon the level of their own understanding. In the 
words of an ancient philosopher: “He who has not even a 
knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who 
h as an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone, is a man 
among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by 
intellectual energy is a God among mfcn.” 

Man’s status in cosmos is determined, therefore, by the 
quality of his thinking. Quality, as applied to mental processes, 
is not necessarily intensity but rather refinement and delicacy. 
The trained scientist may reach a very high degree of intellec- 
tuality and yet lack that beautifying element which is indis- 
pensable to true understanding. Unless the inner nature tran- 
scends the limitations of both the flesh and the mind, the self 
can never attain to a full measure of expression. Whether a 
man be a beast or a god does not depend upon his outward 
appearance but rather upon the clarity of his inner perceptions. 
Many of the most respected citizens of every community arc 
actually ravaging beasts concealing their primitive instincts 
under a thin veneer of culture. On the other hand, some whom 
the world regards as failures possess an innate beauty which 
elevates them far above the level of their fellows. 

The gods may be defined as those in whom the state of 
knowing has reached a degree of relative perfection, and beasts 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


those creatures in whom the state of knowing is asleep. Be- 
tween these two extremes is man, who wanders about in a 
state of partial knowing, united to the bestial creation by his 
ignorance and to the higher orders of divinities by his dawn- 
ing rationality. Between the states of knowing and not-know- 
ing the Greeks postulated the middle distance , a point where 
consciousness and unconsciousness are blended in semiconscious- 
ness. Between the light of spirit above and the darkness of 
matter below there is the twilight zone which is the proper 
sphere of mind and where creatures endowed with minds seek 
to read the book of their destiny by the all-too-insufficient light. 
This central twilight zone is divided by a hypothetical median 
line into two hemispheres. The upper hemisphere, partaking 
most directly of the supreme effulgence which is proximate to it, 
is the dwelling place of the Sons of God — the Ben Elohim of the 
Hebrews— or those beings fundamentally divine but who par- 
take somewhat of the qualities of the middle distance and there- 
fore descend to the hypothetical median line dividing the upper 
and lower hemispheres of the middle distance . The lower hem- 
isphere is proximate to the dark sphere of ignorance, but 
partaking, to a certain degree, of the superior light, becomes 
the abode of the redeemed souls— the Ishim of the Hebrews. 
Inferior creatures rising out of the darkness of their mortal 
night, though they be of the earth earthy, may ascend into the 
middle distance and at this hypothetical median line contact 
the demigods who descend from the superior spheres. Thus 
in the middle distance are to be found both the demigods who 
have descended from above as instructors of mankind, and the 
supermen who, rising from the insufficiency of matter, converse 
with the demigods through the hypothetical median line. 

It follows that the ancients conceived the instructors of 
humanity to be of two kinds: (1) those who descended from 
the light aeons of the internal causal world, and, brooding over 
humanity, spoke through oracles and oracular souls or prophets; 
(2) those who through the peculiar culture of the Mysteries 
were elevated to a state of sensitiveness wherein they became 
ready pens in the hands of the heavenly writers. Knowledge 
likewise is twofold: that knowledge which, having its origin 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

among the celestial beings of the light world, is communicated 
to man and constitutes the revealed or sacred writing; and that 
knowledge which is evolved by man himself during his ages 
of struggle in the inhibiting environment of the mortal world. 
The wisdom imparted by the demigods partakes of that higher 
knowledge which belongs to the sphere of consciousness and 
causation, while that wisdom imparted by the superhuman 
(or illumined human) souls, being further removed from 
cause, lacks the definiteness and authority of the divinely-given 
code. The demigods teach the celestial or inner body of 
knowledge; the superman, the terrestrial or outer body of 
knowledge. Therefore, the initiates and the prophets bear 
witness of the light, though not directly partaking of its power 
to the extent of the demigods. 

According to the esoteric doctrines of Platonism, the demi- 
gods can never become men or descend to the level of mortal- 
ity because they are of a different and higher order of creation. 
On the other hand, though man through discipline and en- 
lightenment rises to a state approaching deification, he can 
never actually become one with the gods, for he must continue 
in the life stream of which he is a part. This does not mean 
that man will not ultimately attain to the state of Divinity but 
rather that he will create his own genus of gods, for the life 
of one creation can never become identical with the life of any 
other creation but must evolve its own vehicles of manifesta- 
tion. The same law that prohibits man from becoming like 
the gods also prohibits the gods from becoming like man, even 
though they control and direct his destiny. In spite of its mag- 
nificent power and divine abundance of wisdom and under- 
standing, the demigod is unable to build a physical body and 
hence must borrow one already prepared for its use. Such a 
body then becomes its oracle or shrine, and through it the 
demigod reaches the dwellers in the dark sphere of matter. 
Thus when one of the demigods, or great Devas, desires to 
communicate with mankind it descends to the median line 
where, working through the plane of mind (the mediating 
principle), it overshadows a mortal who has raised himself to 
this exalted state, and through the higher vehicles of such 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


a mortal contacts humanity. By thus overshadowing the mind 
of the mortal initiate, the Deva causes him to think, speak, and 
act according to the celestial will. 

The demigods must not be considered as personalities but 
rather as individualities, in that they function in substances 
too rarefied (free of gross physical elements) to permit the 
existence of personal organisms. The demigods are units of 
knowing, relatively superior to mortal men but incapable of 
molding physical matter except through the medium of mind. 
Supermen are personal beings who are gradually outgrowing 
personality. Though still limited by mortal bodies, they have 
learned to separate consciousness from form and function (tem- 
porarily at least) in the same substances that constitute the 
attenuated organisms of the demigods. Various Greek philos- 
ophers are said to have been overshadowed by gods or daemons . 
Thus Pythagoras was declared to be overshadowed always by 
the spirit of the Pythian Apollo, and Socrates likewise by a 
mysterious creature which he referred to as his “god.” Bringing 
with it certain great truths otherwise inaccessible to man, such 
a deity elevates the one so overshadowed to a position of un- 
usual philosophic dignity. 

At this point it is necessary to remind the reader that the 
demigods, since they are part of the causal agencies which 
together constitute the spiritual world, are themselves in and 
of the spiritual natures of all creatures. Thus man’s own spirit 
is a demigod hovering over his lower organisms, which are as 
disciples receiving the instruction necessary to right living from 
the god within. In Oriental art Arjuna is frequently shown 
receiving instruction from Krishna on the battlefield of Kuru- 
shetra. Arjuna, the son of Kunti, the mortal man, is often 
represented as a diminutive figure while above him in all the 
splendor of his azure radiance stands the blue Krishna. Here 
Arjuna represents the personal or mortal / and Krishna the 
demigod or oversoul upon whose instruction the mortal man 
depends for his inspiration to right action. 

Occasionally the spiritual and the material worlds are sym- 
bolized by two pyramids, one inverted with its base in the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

heavens and the other upright with its base upon the earth. 
The two pyramids meet at their apexes. The pyramid with 
its foundation in heaven decreases in size as it descends, and 
is the proper symbol of the decreasing choirs of celestial beings 
(forces and intelligences) that descend in concatenated order 
from the effulgence of the Twenty-fourth Mystery which is the 
First Mystery from above. The upright pyramid with its foun- 
dation in matter indicates by its converging sides the gradual 
decrease of materiality until at its apex materiality vanishes. 
Occasionally a serpent is wound about the point where the 
two apexes meet, thus indicating the mystery of mind and the 
astral light which is the blending of the superior and the 
inferior Aeons. 

This concatenated order of decreasing materiality and in- 
creasing spirituality forms the many-runged ladder rising from 
the darkness of oblivion below and the perfect light of celestial 
splendor above, and was the ladder that the angels ascended 
and descended in Jacob’s vision. Man painfully climbs the 
many steps leading to the summit of the pyramid of material 
attainment, and upon reaching the apex finds himself at the 
foot of an incalculable flight of steps that leads upward to the 
very source of Being. Upon this upper flight of steps stand 
the demigods, above them the gods, and around about the 
winged spirits who dwell in the middle distance and are the 
divine messengers. This entire picture must be considered, 
however, as a symbolic representation of the states and condi- 
tions of consciousness, intelligence, and force, which by their 
orderly combinations bring all phenomena into manifestation. 

The figure accompanying this chapter sets forth in a dia- 
grammatic manner the interplay of the three worlds forming 
the basis of Greek and Hindu philosophy. Once this point 
is comprehended, the entire structure of ancient thought is 
revealed. The circles, of course, merely represent vast areas 
of spiritual activity occupying the same place at the same time 
but separated from each other by the vibratory rates of their 
atomic particles. The white sphere represents the causal na- 
ture, the black sphere the material universe. It will be noted 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


that the third, or intermediate sphere consists of a dotted area, 
the dots increasing in number below and decreasing in number 
above the horizontal line. The entire diagram is divided hori- 
zontally by a heavy line which represents the definite point 
of separation between the causal universe and the universe 
of effects. This diagram should be considered as applicable 
not only to cosmos but to every organism in the universe, 
which by its very existence demonstrates that it is composed of 
spiritual and material agencies combined as shown in the draw- 
ing. The ladder rising through the three worlds signifies the 
path of attainment that leads from darkness into light. That 
part of the ladder occupying the space below the central di- 
viding line represents the mystery of water, which is purifica- 
tion; that part of the ladder above the central dividing line 
represents the mystery of fire, which is the baptism of the 
spirit. Here is the key to the two baptisms of the Christian 
Gnostics, for John the Baptist is made to say, “I indeed baptize 
you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me 
* * # shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” 
In this figure is thus set forth the entire purpose of the ancient 
Mysteries and the processes of human regeneration. Here also 
is set forth a still greater mystery— the mystery of the dying 
god — with which we must now concern ourselves. 

The Augustinian, or outer, interpretation of the dying god 
mythos declares the martyr Savior to be the line descending 
from the dot to the circle which, falling into the darkness of 
the circumference, is swallowed up (or allegorically dies) by 
becoming immersed in the irrational sphere of matter. Man 
is declared to have two souls, or rather, two hypothetical phases 
of one soul consciousness. The first and superior is the rational 
soul; the second and inferior, the irrational soul. The rational 
soul is that part of man which is ever in awareness of divine 
and eternal self. The irrational soul is that part which, being 
incapable of retiring into the mysteries of self, mistakes the 
outer nature for the inner and assumes the objective man to 
be the real. The qualities of the rational soul are apperception, 
realization, comprehension, and other higher mental and super- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

mental faculties. The qualities of the irrational soul are ex- 
ternal perception, ignorance, selfishness, lust, greed, and kindred 
vices. The rational soul is necessarily unselfish because it con- 
ceives self to be distributed throughout the entire substance of 
Being. Glimpsing the universal ultimates of life, the rational 
soul is not hypnotized by the illusion of a personal self and 
therefore does not urge toward personal aggrandizement and 
accumulation. The irrational soul is fundamentally selfish be- 
cause it conceives self to be isolated, and the service and preser- 
vation of self therefore becomes an all-important consideration. 
Sin and death are the masters of the irrational soul. Realizing 
the kinship of one with the All, the rational soul, however, 
attains immortality and omnipotence. Socrates defines man as 
a self-knowing being immersed in a not-knowing body. This 
is the outer mystery of the dying god slain for the sin of the 
world or, more correctly, by the sin of the world. 

Descending from the spiritual Aeons and dying by reason of 
immersion in the unknowing nature of the inferior creation, 
the self-knower becomes the motif of many allegories. A well- 
known example is that of Jonah being thrown overboard and 
swallowed by the hippocampus or mythological whale. Jonah 
(the knower) is immersed in the sea of illusion (life) and 
swallowed by cetus (the leviathan or monster of mortality). 
St Augustine explains the allegory differently, declaring the 
whale to symbolize God who, when the prophet was cast by 
men into the sea of tribulation, was accepted into the body of 
God and carried safely to shore. The three days that Jonah 
remained in the whale’s belly, however, links the allegory defin- 
itely to the dying-god myth, for according to the Mysteries the 
rational soul is immersed for three days in the nature of the 
inferior sphere. Again, the irrational universe (the not-know- 
ing part) is divided into twelve sections which are symbolized 
by the signs of the zodiac and called the Twelve Holy Animals. 
These are the twelve parts of unreality. In the Greek Mysteries 
they are called the Titans or primordial giants who took the 
body of Bacchus (the rational soul) and tearing it to pieces 
devoured the flesh. This signifies, in the terms of the Pythag- 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


oreans, that the one knower— the real part of every creature 
and the rational soul of the universe— is destroyed and its in- 
tegrity dissipated by multitude, represented by the Titans. 

Paracelsus calls man a composita, or a being composed of 
man and beast, a concept symbolized in the Mysteries by the 
centaur who had the head and shoulders of a man and the 
body of a horse. Man is twofold: a rational nature rising out 
of an irrational nature— hence, the mystery of the dying god. 
The rational soul is the eternal martyr who awaits the day of 
his liberation, which can only be accomplished when man 
elevates himself above the level of material impulse. Bacchus 
torn to pieces by the Titans, Atys gored by the wild boar, 
Adonis dead at the foot of the pine tree, Orpheus slain by the 
Ciconian women — all these ancient martyrs represent the ration- 
ality of man falling a victim to the inconstancies of his inferior 
nature. Chiron, the centaur instructor of Achilles, has a dif- 
ferent significance however, for here the centaur represents the 
god-man with its head in the supreme world and its body in 
Nature. The centaur is therefore one of the demigods over- 
shadowing a highly evolved human soul. The irrational nature 
of man is well symbolized by the Cretan labyrinth where rules 
the Minotaur, the bull-headed lord of matter, the creature 
which most mistake for their own true self. Into this irra- 
tional sphere descends Theseus, who prevents himself from be- 
ing lost in the tortuous passageways by unraveling behind him 
Ariadne’s thread. The rational soul thus slays the beast-man 
and becomes king of the country of its own life. So much for 
the exoteric significance of the dying-god allegory. 

In the secret teachings it is written that mind itself is the 
Savior-God. Mind is the martyr of the ages, the eternal and 
universal Prometheus sacrificed upon the altar of human neces- 
sity. Mind is the willing sufferer upon the tree. Mind must 
destroy itself that that which is greater than mind may endure. 
According to the Mysteries, there comes that time in the quest 
of consciousness when man discovers the mind to be the slayer 
of the Real. Then as he sloughs off his evil nature, he must 
slough off his mind that his consciousness may be disin tangled 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

from the infinite complex of the mental web. The mind is 
incapable of ascending to the state of consciousness. The mind 
can never completely annihilate the sense of separateness, for it 
depends upon comparison for its function and differentiation 
for its very existence. Consequently, though the mind is ever 
the link between consciousness and unconsciousness, it too must 
be ultimately sacrificed in order that the Great Work be accom- 
plished. By the death of the mind consciousness is released to 
complete perfection, but woe unto him who slays the mind 
without that understanding which must be given out of the 

The mind must not die until its own work has been com- 
pleted and its function has reached the highest possible degree 
of perfection. As the mind increases in power and rationality, 
it grows gradually to realize that there is something beyond 
thought. The mind is capable of realizing this power but is 
never able actually to contact it. There is a supcrmental state 
which is synonymous to a certain extent with the causal sphere. 
The Buddhist sees consciousness as a universal sea. Conscious- 
ness is therefore something that is moved only by a divine ebb 
and flow, by a realization of itself. This universal, all-penetrat- 
ing sea is the true substance of everything, for consciousness 
(or Self) was before the beginning and consciousness (or Self) 
is after the end. Beginning and end are illusions, but Self is 
eternal. Consciousness is therefore union with Self. Conscious- 
ness knows no separateness. As long as me and thee exist, 
consciousness is not perfected. Life and death, good and evil, 
light and shadow — these are the illusions of mind. But in 
consciousness diversity is totally annihilated and all things are 
one in reality and in essence. The bond of brotherhood is 
proved by the mind to be good, but the realization of brother- 
hood is not consciousness. The bond of friendship is demon- 
strated by the intellect to be necessary, but frendship is less than 
consciousness. There is no consciousness until the / in each is 
one and indivisible from the / in All. Until we arc everything 
that we in our ignorance believe surrounds us, there is no com- 
plete consciousness. We may study the star intellectually, but 
we have never attained consciousness until we arc the star, the 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


stone, the heavens, and the earth. When our consciousness is 
perfect we extend from the heights of height to the depths of 
depth; we permeate the whole nature of existence; we are in 
everything, we are through everything, we are the whole nature 
of everything. 

The difference between intellect and consciousness is there- 
fore the difference between a mental concept of an object and 
an actual mingling of our consciousness with the consciousness 
of the object itelf. This latter state is realization. The intellec- 
tual concept, however, must to a certain degree precede the 
consciousness. As the mind is higher than the body, and the 
body must ultimately accept the thinking organism as its master, 
so consciousness is higher than mind, and the mind must ulti- 
mately give way to it. The mind is a bridge connecting con- 
sciousness and unconsciousness, but having crossed the bridge, 
it is left behind, its usefulness past. As a bridge, however, the 
mind is a vital necessity, and he who depreciates it is as false 
as he who permits himself to become the servant of its whims. 

The Buddhist priest entering into Nirvana, and the Brahman 
bridging the chasm between mortal consciousness and samadht, 
both cast aside mind as a snare and a delusion; yet without it 
the very principles upon which they work would be incom- 
prehensible to them. The Eastern mind, endeavoring to an- 
nihilate the unreal and mingle itself with the Real, depends 
first upon the intellect to reveal the processes of illumination 
and the reasonableness of their abstract conceptions. The West- 
ern schools of philosophy differ from the Eastern in that they 
teach the perfection of the mind before its rejection, whereas 
the Eastern schools are prone to regard the mind as a hindrance, 
to be discarded at the very beginning of spiritual growth. Thus 
the Eastern mystic with his own nature slays the mind, while 
the Western philosopher, by elevating the mind to a realization 
of its own insufficiency, causes the intellect voluntarily to offer 
itself as a willing sacrifice upon the altar of spirit. 

The ability to feel with rather than for is the essential differ- 
ence between consciousness and emotion. When we feel for 
things we are emotionally moved. Pity, sympathy, and kindred 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

feelings stir ns, and yet they seldom give any definite impulse 
that is of value in the adjustment of any chain of circumstances. 
When we feel with things we are so much a part of them that 
we understand the innermost elements of their being. Thus 
understanding comes with consciousness, and knowledge with 
intellectual comprehension. According to the ancient doctrines, 
perfect consciousness — the ability to feel with everything as part 
of everything — was regarded as the ultimate state of so-called 
human unfoldment, and he who had achieved this had attained 
to godhood in his own right. The gods are simply emblematic 
of varying degrees of consciousness in that vast interval between 
ignorance and realization. At present humanity is semicon- 
scious — conscious over the area of the known and unconscious 
over the area of the unknown. We have reached a degree of 
consciousness that enables us to study the exoteric, or outer 
constitution of things. We will never know the urges, however, 
that cause the diversified phenomena of existence uptil we are 
united with the inner nature that animates the outer body. 
Consciousness is gauged, therefore, by our ability to unite our- 
selves with the soul urges of those creatures that surround us, 
and true greatness is measured by the power to come en rapport 
with the causes of objective manifestation. 

Many centuries ago there was founded in Korea a group of 
Eastern thinkers of Buddhist persuasion who developed the 
science of realization to a higher degree than any group since 
Gautama himself. The story is told that to one of the monas- 
teries of this order in Japan there came a disciple who dedicated 
his life to the attainment of this inner consciousness. Year after 
year he struggled to master the illusions of his outer nature and 
find the infinite and all-pervading self within. His patience 
was tireless, his devotion unwavering. Yet the passing years 
found no apparent improvement in his spiritual condition; he 
was never able to be one with all the life that surrounded him. 
After having spent the best part of a lifetime in wandering and 
meditation without reward, he finally returned to the little 
monastery, having decided that if he could not attain to con- 
sciousness life was useless and he would destroy himself. Just 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


inside the monastery grounds was a tall tower, and climbing to 
the top the monk cast himself off with a silent hope that his 
search would end in the peace of death. While in the act 
of falling, consciousness came to him, and with it the realiza- 
tion that the earth below was so surely a part of himself that 
it would not injure him when he fell upon it. The result of 
this realization was that he landed on his feet uninjured after 
a fall which would have killed the ordinary man. His face 
radiant with the inner conviction that had come upon him, 
he rushed to the abbot of the monastery who had been his 
friend for many years, and bowing before the aged man ex- 
claimed, “At last I know, Master; at last I know!” Seeing the 
look of divine understanding upon the face of the mendicant, 
the abbot smilingly asked, “What do you know?” “I cannot 
tell you what I know, Master. There are no words, no thoughts 
that can express it. If you know, you must know as 1 know. 
I can make no revelation of it to any man.” The abbot looked 
at him for a moment and then replied, “It is evident, my son, 
that you know. The fact that you cannot tell it is the proof 
that you possess it. Nothing of which we may speak can 
transcend the world of illusion, for words themselves were 
created to describe unrealities. Therefore the unutterable is the 
real and the unthinkable is the true; the utterable is the false 
and the thinkable is the phantom of a dream.” 

In this renaissance of the metaphysical we hear much of 
consciousness and understanding and spiritual realization. But 
one thing is certain and to be depended upon he who possesses 
consciousness will make no effort to reveal it, for the very 
achievement brings with it a realization of the hopelessness of 
attempting to communicate the wonders of the Self to a world 
that knows nothing of the contemplative life. People talk 
glibly of cosmic consciousness and unity with Absolute Being, 
but their very words belie the fact. A great Buddhist monk 
was once brought into the presence of the Emperor of China, 
and the Emperor addressed him thus: “Anwser me, O servant 
of the enlightened, one question.” And the saffron-robed sage 
replied, “Noble sire, what is your question?” The Son of Heaven 
answered, “I would know the end of things, the ultimate state.” 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Daruma gazed upon him for a moment with a strange expres- 
sion of mingled sadness and amusement — amused that any 
man should dare to ask in words that which no words can ex- 
plain, sad that anyone should know so little as to ask so much. 
Finally the sage answered, “O Emperor, bring me a potted 
plant” A servant brought one in and the monk, looking at it 
for a second said, “This is a rare porcelain, is it not?” “It is 
worth a fortune,” replied the Emperor. Thereupon the sage 
dashed the potted plant to the hard floor where it was shattered 
to bits. Filled with wrath the Emperor cried out, “Foolish one, 
what have you done ?” “I have answered your question concern- 
ing the ultimate of things,” the sage rejoined. “Words fail, 
thoughts fail, but in this way I can give you evidence of that 
which must be evidenced by the self alone.” For a time the 
Emperor was buried in thought, and then shook his head. 
“I do not understand,” he said. “Alas,” replied the sage, “alas, 
sire, I can do no more!” 

During the progress of our lectures we have been asked again 
and again to describe those spiritual processes by which the mys- 
tery of the Self is to be revealed. If those who asked knew or 
realized the nature of their question they would know that it is 
unanswerable by mortal man, and that he who even attempts to 
give an answer thrice proves his unfitness to possess the answer. 
Many are the paths of Dharma by which the law is revealed, 
and more than this of the law cannot be said: He who would 
know and comprehend must learn to think and dream and 
feel in the rhythm of universal concerns, leaving behind him 
the pettiness of personal affairs. To achieve to the end of Tao 
he must exchange the rhythm of the senses for that vast ebb 
and flow of measureless eternity, for only when man ceases to 
be man is he not man. When he ceases to be a creature ; when 
he ceases to think or to feel or to know; when he ceases to feel 
his kinship with the earth or the sky; when he is no longer 
mortal or immortal; when he is neither one with the grain of 
dust nor with the gods; when all conditions have passed away; 
when dimension and time have disappeared; when nothing re- 
mains except the all-pervading Universal Self, unthinkable, un- 
knowable, transcendent, and perfect; when the interval between 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


the self and the Self in all has been annihilated— when all these 
things are one and I-am-that-one and yet 1 am not, then the 
soul has ceased to be a soul and is Self. Nirvana is reached 
when each finds himself to be all and rests forever in the state 
of Not-Being, which is All-Being, indivisible and perfect. 

In Japan the Tango no Sekku, or Festival of the Boys, is a 
very important one, and is celebrated annually early in May. 
Among the important symbols in evidence at this time is the 
paper flag or kite cut in the shape of a great fish. This banner 
is hollow and the wind blowing into it causes the carp to be- 
come inflated and swim about in the air in a very lifelike man- 
ner. The ceremony of flying the carp had its origin in the an- 
cient Chinese legend of the dragon carp, This fish, which 
swims with great resolution against the current, is considered 
in the Orient to be a fitting emblem of the soul of man swim- 
ming against the stream of illusion and striving to reach per- 
fection despite the opposition of time and circumstance. The 
dragon carp, according to the legend, desired to swim against 
the Dragon Gate rapids, and again and again threw its body 
into the air, only to be beaten back by the strength of the angry 
current. The gods, beholding the struggle of the carp, marveled 
at its patience and endurance, for it returned from each new 
defeat with fresh courage and determination to conquer the 
rapids. At last, with a supreme effort the carp achieved 
its end, and when it reached the haven of the placid waters 
above the rapids, the body of the great fish glowed with a celes- 
tial splendor and became the symbol of the accomplishment of 
perfection. The gods gave the fish the life span of a thousand 
years, and at the end of this period it was transfigured. Sur- 
rounded by streamers of divine radiance, it ascended into the 
heavens and became one of the immortals. In Buddhist sym- 
bolism, the achievement of the dragon carp, fittingly symbolizes 
the attainment of Nirvana. Again and again the human soul 
seeks to stem the tide of mortal fate. Heedless of wordly rid- 
icule and misunderstanding, the mystic patiently continues his 
effort to clear the rapids of his own lower nature. At last, 
passing through the maelstrom of the lower self he finds peace, 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

and being transfigured ascends into the heavens to be united 
in Nirvana with all creatures and all ages. 

The difference between the intellectual concept and con- 
sciousness lies in certain indescribable realities too deeply im- 
bedded in the nature of Being to permit description. In the 
East, consciousness is likened to the lotus bud which, gradually 
opening, reveals more and more of itself to a wondering world 
until at last the golden heart in all its splendor is disclosed. 
Perfect consciousness to man is perfect realization of the nature 
and relationship of parts to the fundamental unity in which 
they exist. The ability to understand the actual order of Being, 
and to see everything correctly, is to be conscious. To see 
things as they seem to be is to be subject to the illusions of the 
lower mind. 

An example of consciousness may be briefly summed up in 
the statement that to know the nature of all things is to realize 
that all things are good. To intellectually achieve this attitude 
is very simple, for it is only necessary to affirm continually that 
the thing is good, and after a while the mind, following the 
line of least resistance, accepts the affirmation as a fact and no 
longer questions the reality of that good. But there is a vast 
difference between convincing oneself intellectually of the good- 
ness of things, and becoming really conscious of the goodness 
of things. Consciousness is not the result of the mind convinc- 
ing the Self; consciousness is the result of the Self convincing 
the mind. The mind incarnated in the Christos speaks of con- 
sciousness personified in the Father in these words: “The Father 
is greater than I.” Consciousness is greater than mind, which 
is born out of and is a limited expression of the Supreme Parent. 

What then did the Emperor Julian infer when he spoke of 
the sacred Mysteries of the Seven-Rayed God who lifted souls 
to salvation through his own nature? Simply this: No more 
can Reality descend to the level of ignorance than can the lesser 
of anything contain the greater. If man would grasp the 
Infinite, it is therefore necessary for him to raise himself to the 
level of the Infinite, and as he ascends the mystery becomes ever 
more clear. Universal Mind is the Seven-Rayed Savior-God 

Illumined Mind, the Universal Savior 


through which man must ascend from the primitive state of 
darkened mindlessness to the perfect state of all-knowing mind- 
lessness. Thus mind is indeed the Savior-God who leads the 
soul to the comprehension of Self. But, as was true of Moses, 
the Lawgiver of Israel, it is not written that mind shall enter 
into the Promised Land. Having led the children of Israel (the 
parts of the inferior nature) through the Wilderness of Sin to 
the portals of the Gates of Peace, the mind lies down among 
the bleak hills of Moab, its work accomplished, and rests in 
the Law. His face illumined by the celestial radiance reflected 
from the sphere he can never fully understand, mind, the Uni- 
versal Savior, dies at the gate of Nirvana while the souls he has 
redeemed pass on to perfection. 


The pathway of the generating soul is here represented by a converging line 
force which, piercing the wall of the Auric Egg, descends, as is shown on the left 
1 into the Demiurgic sphere. The soul then begins the ascent of the seven spir als » 
by which it is ultimately liberated and diffused back again into First Cause, as shown 
ai the right. 


The Inferior Creation and its Regent 

TN THE Platonic system of philosophy the dot is called the 
* One . The early mystics held that Being should be considered 
the first, in that One is a being. Plato, however, maintained 
that the One is All-Being, because being is a condition of the 
One and consequently dependent upon it. The fallacy of terms 
is again apparent. Being in this sense has no connection with 
the thought of to be or exist, but signifies that which is with- 
out existence in that it has neither a positive nor a negative 
state, Thus while Plato assails the term, he still maintains in 
his philosophic writings the existence of a universal state pre- 
ceding the One but denies that this universal state should be 
called Being, intimating that it should always be assumed by 
the mind but no effort ever made to denominate it. The mo- 
ment denomination is given, this abstract quality becomes the 
One, in that definition cannot possibly be applied to the Ab- 
solute, the One being the highest definable state. The line out 
of the dot, or the One, is called the Beautiful : the circle, or 
radius of the line, the Good. In this manner is established the 
great Platonic triad: the One, the Beautiful, and the Good. 

The Pythagoreans conceived the number 1 to be before all 
numbers. It is called the capstone of the pyramid of numbers. 
All other numbers are simply aggregations of l’s. Two is two 
Ts; three, three l’s; a million, a million l’s. Remove the 1 
and you destroy all numbers. Therefore it is the first and has 
absolute priority. The power and dignity of the number 1 are 
expressed in permanence, stability, immovability. In philosophy 
beauty is a form of motion or emotion. The Beautiful is an 
eternal flow; it is the One in motion. The Good, which is the 
third and lowest aspect, contains or accepts into itself the nature 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

of the Beautiful; it is the manifestation of the Beautiful in the 
sphere of creation. For example, he who has the Beautiful 
within his own soul radiates the Good and is called the Good. 
It may be said that to be beautiful is good; also that to be good 
is beautiful. Consquently that is good which contains beauty. 

From this Platonic definition it is apparent why the Savior- 
Gods of all nations have been symbolized as Beautiful. Aesthet- 
ically considered, Beauty is the redeeming power. When the 
human soul opens itself to the reception of Beauty it is then 
transmuted. Beauty is a force into the presence of which none 
can come and remain unmoved. Beauty is an internal force 
symbolic of supersubstantial harmony manifesting through 
goodness. In its final analysis Good is symmetry, or the har- 
monious coordination of parts. In other words, that is good 
in which the parts work together. That individual is good in 
whom the natural forces function naturally. It also follows that 
a symmetry of parts is harmonious and harmony of parts pro- 
duces a concord which is termed beautiful. According to the 
ancients, the world is the receptacle for the Beautiful, which in 
turn manifests the all-knowing of the One. This lecture is 
to be devoted to a consideration of the world that is called 
Good, and how, through the continual Adversary, it ultimately 
effects the perfection and liberation of the rational nature. 

The world is a form, and forms arc molded from matter. 
Matter ranges from an unrecognizable state of crystallization to 
an unrecognizable state of vitalization, both extremes alike in- 
tangible because of the inability of our sense perceptions to cog- 
nize any ultimate. Form exists not only in things that can be 
seen but in such as can be perceived through the senses of hear- 
ing, touch, taste, and smell. Form therefore is not merely a 
physical body that can be seen; it may be a subtle emanation 
as light or sound. A word cannot be seen and yet a word is 
a form. Under certain conditions drug addicts can see words 
coming out of people’s mouths, their supersensitiveness being 
the result of a low form of drug-invoked psychism. A thought 
is not visible nor can it be held between the fingers, and yet a 
thought is as truly a form as is a piece of stone. The inferior 

The Inferior Creation and its Regent 


universe therefore includes every conceivable state or condition 
of form. Form is the inferior nature of everything manifesting 
being. Form includes not only every part of the universe from 
the mental level downward but, ultimately, up through the 
higher spiritual spheres; in fact every plane upon which differ- 
entiation exists. But the planes of consciousness above that of 
thought, and the entities dwelling therein, have a term other 
than form applied to them. The circle, or circumference, is 
therefore the symbol of feelings, thoughts, and bodies in all 
their infinite ramifications. 

The ancients symbolized form and the laws controlling the 
organization of matter into bodies by a reaping skeleton, the 
emblem of death. Form has ever been regarded as the parent 
of ignorance. Throughout the inferior creation consciousness 
lies buried in form. Form is the confusing, resisting, limiting, 
inhibiting, and imprisoning part of existence. Nothing in 
whose nature even a trace of form remains is capable of ab- 
solute consciousness. Form is the graveyard of consciousness. 
Since all life is thus inhibited by form, no creature controlled 
by the form part is rational. 

Philosophically speaking, absolute form— that is, the ultimate 
degree of form — is ultimate negation, because it is the absence 
of all that is necessary to the greatest good. In its most en- 
meshed state life is at its lowest ebb. Therefore, in philosophy 
form is termed the Eternal Adversary. In Egypt form was 
called Typhon, and as a symbol of his disrepute he was pic- 
tured with the head of a crocodile and the body of a hog— 
sometimes the wings of a bat were added. Form is always 
the destroyer. In India form is known as Shiva, or Rudra, the 
lord of destruction, or rather, the principle behind the form is 
so defined. In the realm of philosophy form is one of the un- 
solved problems of the ages, for it is in reality simply an in- 
ferior life inhibiting the manifestation of a superior life. In 
this sea of confusing form elements men live and move and 
have their being, and out of the ever-changing substances of 
form all mortal creatures build their bodies, which are thus 
destined to return to the elemental spheres from which they 
were derived. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The universe of matter that extends throughout the infinite 
vistas of unmeasured space and includes within itself the heav- 
enly bodies functioning through space and bearing with them 
an indescribable diversity of flora and fauna, is all part of what 
the ancients termed the underworld. Even the apparent vacuum 
in which these mighty bodies exist, and the host of invisible 
agencies that order sidereal dynamics, form part of a vast but 
inferior creation manifesting through the realm of form. This 
world of form — suns, moons, and stars — is called hades, or the 
land of death. It is the world of darkness. It is called dark 
because in it the light of spirit is swallowed up and creatures 
move in the haze of uncertainty. Darkness, however, does not 
imply evil, but simply the lack of light. In the sphere of form 
all creatures lack the full brilliance of consciousness or aware- 
ness. In this dark world, which is the circumference of the 
circle of existence, man is at his greatest degree of separateness 
from spiritual Source, and the sphere in which he functions 
is the lowest degree of divine agency. All through mythology 
the gods of light and life fight the demons of darkness and 
death. In the Babylonian mythology Merodach slays the 
dragon, and in the Christianized version of the myth St. George 
is the hero. The dragon of matter, a foul, flame-breathing 
monster, must be slain by Siegfried in order that the treasure 
of the Nibelung may be recovered. 

Every creature struggles against the inertia of its immediate 
personal environment, Inertia is the characteristic attribute of 
form. It must be realized that this is inertia in a relative sense, 
for if matter be reduced to its ultimate it will be found to con- 
sist of life particles vibrating at incredible rates of speed. In 
comparison to the consciousness of man, however, matter is 
unconscious; in comparison to the active principles of the uni- 
verse, matter is negative. On the other hand, in comparison to 
orders of life undoubtedly existing, but unknown to us, matter 
may very well be considered positive. Matter, or form, simply 
represents the unconquered environment that surrounds every 
life struggling for existence. As the world of life and conscious- 
ness represents the spiritual nature of Deity, so the vast ocean 
of matter, continually changing and manifesting an infinitude 

The Inferior Creation and its Regent 


of forms, is the inferior part or body of Deity. As all crea- 
tures are made in the image of their Universal Creator, it 
follows that each has a spiritual nature which is part of and 
harmonious with the spiritual nature of the universe, and also 
a material nature which is part of and harmonious with the 
cosmic body. When the emphasis of the life is upon its spiritual 
part we term the individual idealistic, but when the emphasis 
is upon the material part we term him materialistic. Character 
is determined by the plane of his own nature upon which the 
emphasis of the individual’s life is placed. Every human being 
has moments when he rises above his own level; also moments 
when he sinks below that level. This level may be termed in 
music the keynote of the individual, with the sharp as its higher 
and the flat as its lower phase. 

In Chaldean philosophy there is the wonderful legend of 
Ishtar and Tammuz. The story deals particularly with the 
descent of Ishtar through the seven worlds into hades, the in- 
ferior sphere. The allegory simply signifies the incarnation of 
the rational soul in the substances of the irrational world. The 
irrational world is divided into seven strata by the rings of the 
planets upon which sit, according to the Mysteries, the Seven 
Governors of the World, each of whom bestows upon the in- 
carnating soul one of the seven limitations of matter called veils 
by Hermes. However, in the myth of Ishtar, instead of the 
soul being veiled or having certain adornments given to it, the 
allegory sets forth the limitation of spiritual power through the 
removal of certain divine attributes. These attributes signify the 
functioning of certain spiritual forces, which functioning is 
rendered impossible by the involvements of the soul in matter. 
The spiritual properties of the rational self are symbolized by a 
crown, jewels, breast and body adornments, and sandals. As 
Ishtar descends through the seven gates of the seven Governors, 
each takes from her one of her spiritual qualities until, deprived 
of all the evidence of her royal birth (spiritual origin), she 
arrives in the “house of no return,” the dark and gloomy pre- 
cints of death. 

Each human soul entering into mortal incarnation has thus 
been robbed, by the seven worlds of matter, of the manifesting 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

proofs of its divinity until, helpless and impotent, the all-know- 
ing spiritual man appears in the physical world as a wide-eyed 
babe incapable even of self-preservation. Thus the immortal 
assumes the dream of mortality, and clouded by the veils of the 
seven planets takes up the humdrum of mortal existence, all 
oblivious to the godhood within. Robbed of her adornments, 
Ishtar must patiently accept the infirmities heaped upon her by 
the irate goddess of death. After many tribulations Ishtar is at 
last rescued from her infernal prison through the intercession 
of the deities, and ascending once more through the heavenly 
gates receives back the symbols of her royal rank and dignity. 
Then, speading her wings, she soars upward to the spheres of 

Philosophically considered, the descent of the rational na- 
ture of man into its irrational body is involution ; the resurrec- 
tion of the rational nature from this condition of immersion, 
evolution. The physical universe is the sphere of ignorance 
where each creature is at its worst in that it has forgotten the 
best within itself. So thick and numerous are the veils of the 
rings that the light of spirit is obscured until but a dim haze 
bears witness of its effulgence. 

It naturally follows that accomplishment in the physical 
world is the greatest of all accomplishments, for it is under the 
most difficult of all situations. Here is a key to the story of the 
prodigal son, who represents the incarnating soul. The pigsty 
where he must eat and sleep with the hogs represents one ancient 
patriarch’s concept of the physical universe. When at last the 
prodigal, having repented of his iniquities and having seen the 
folly erf material existence, returned to the house of his Father 
(the light-world), the fatted calf was killed in his honor, for his 
accomplishment was great. Jealous of the attention bestowed 
upon the improvident youth, the elder brother made his dis- 
satisfaction known to his Father, who replied that there was 
ample cause for rejoicing in that the lost had been found and 
the dead lived again. 

The story carries the same thought permeating Egyptian 
philosophy: namely, that life in the mortal sphere without a 
realization of the Divine Plan is the true death; that resurrec- 

The Interior Creation and its Regent 79 

don from this state is the most desired of all attainments. Yet 
to rise victorious from the dark world of hopeless involvement 
is an accomplishment so noble that it elevates the conquering 
soul to a dignity exceeding that of the angels who are never 
confronted with this problem. 

The stupefying effect of matter (rather its organizations into 
form) is appropriately symbolized by cold. Those of you 
who have been out when it was sixty degrees below zero know 
what it means when the mercury freezes and the air is filled 
with a continuous crackling sound. Huge logs split from end 
to end with a sound like the report of a great gun, and even the 
nails seem to ooze out of the wood. It is hard to fight cold 
because it discourages the effort to resist its influence. Over the 
nature gradually comes a feeling of comfort and peace accom- 
panied by an overwhelming desire to rest. No prospect seems 
so pleasant as to go to sleep in the snow; no effort seems so 
unnecessary as to fight against the innate urge to drift off into 
the sleep of death. Cold fights you by taking away your desire 
to resist. This is the most insidious of all foes, and is com- 
parable to the way in which form destroys spiritual initiative. 

Materiality does not attack the body or the conscious func- 
tioning of the mind; it assails the will power and destroys the 
morale. As long as there is the desire to fight ignorance and 
degeneracy, as long as there is the inner urge to resist evil and 
the illusions of matter, it is possible to attain liberation with 
reasonable effort. Form, however, fights in an underhanded 
way by taking away the desire to master its elements, and 
substituting therefore the lethargy of indifference which pre- 
fers to leave things just as they are and go along with the rest 
of the world, enjoying its momentary pleasures and suffering 
as resolutely as possible the concurrent ills of life. When the 
material urge of physical environment has so benumbed the in- 
ner nature that every spiritual aspiration is anesthetized, the 
individual is reduced to the level of that mediocre throng who 
are content to struggle along in the age-old ruts. Such have 
hypnotized themselves into the false belief that existing condi- 
tions are inevitable and unchangeable. 

Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

When the desire to do right for the sake of right is smoth- 
ered by matter, there is left but one power capable of dealing 
with the problem of inertia: namely, pain, either mental, phys- 
ical or emotional. Through suffering, the insufficiency of ma- 
terial accomplishments is demonstrated. The desire to do good 
for the sake of good is an urge far too subtle to survive the 
stifling influence of matter. Hence to counteract man’s inces- 
sant effort to forget his own spiritual needs is his continual 
proclivity to hurt himself. Man’s effort to control his own life 
without intelligence invariably demonstrates its futility. He 
strives to live without the help of consciousness, with the result 
that he exists in pain and tribulation. Because of his suffering 
he acquires a great incentive toward knowledge for its own 
sake in order to save himself from the pain resulting from igno- 
rance. Thus the law of self-preservation is ever forcing the way. 
ward feet back into the path that leads to light. Physical suffer- 
ing first led man to ponder the mysteries of his own being. 
In the last analysis, however, the pain of the body is the least 

Then came emotional suffering— the pain in the heart- 
much more desperate and difficult to endure. Lastly came 
mental suffering, in which the entire constitution is torn and 
racked by that gargantuan conflict when the faculties of the 
mind hurl thought missiles at each other. Looking at the aver- 
age individual, we see a consciousness that is impotent in the 
grasp of form which, like cold, has benumbed its sensibilities. 
Cold is the proper symbol of the circumference of the sphere of 

The word hell, derived from the Scandinavian hel, means 
cold, though its has long been associated with its opposite term, 
heat. This discloses a certain consistent inconsistency charac- 
teristic of the works of man. Some missionaries visiting the 
Far North described in “glowing” terms the sulphurous nature 
of hell. As a result the Eskimos were immediately interested, 
for the underworld was thereby made particularly inviting to 
a race that found extreme difficulty in keeping heat in their 
chilled organisms. Obviously, any intimate description of hell 
depends for its effectiveness upon the equation of longitude 

The Inferior Creation and its Recent 81 

and latitude. Just as life, light, and heat are associated with the 
quality of expansion, since the natural impulse of life is to ex- 
pand, so death, darkness, and cold are related to the quality of 
contraction, since the natural impulse of death is to contract. 

Realizing (according to the ancient Mysteries) that the phys- 
ical universe was the sphere of death and that there was no 
death so real as immersion in form, let us now consider the 
nature and structure of this great dark sphere as it was taught 
to the philosophers of ancient days, and is still preserved among 
those groups who are perpetuating the Ancient Wisdom. The 
material universe considered as a unit is the body of the Lord 
of Form or the Master of the World. This World Lord, whose 
consciousness is of the nature of mind, is the Jehovah or IHVH 
of the Jews, the Zeus of the Greeks, and the Jupiter of the 
Romans. In the philosophy of the Gnostics and the Neo* 
platonists he was called the Demiurgus. The original interpre- 
tation of this word is difficult to ascertain, but it may be ren- 
dered in its philosophic sense as the false urge. The Demiurgus 
is therefore to be defined as the composite material universe 
considered as a personal being or power. 

The emanations from this Lord are called his powers, and 
are sometimes referred to as the princes of the world. You will 
remember that Jesus warned his disciples that the princes of 
this world would never understand him, and that they had 
nothing in common with him. The princes of the world arc 
the divisions of the forces controlling the form universe, these 
forces being considered as gods. Philosophically, the Lord of 
the World is the great autocrat, for autonomy is a principle 
nonexistent in the universal sense. This despot, who is con- 
ceived as using the earth for his footstool and the heavens for 
his throne, is presumed to control his universe through the in- 
exorable justice of law, which because of man’s ignorance breeds 
fear, hate, and death. When you think of the philosophic 
trinity, remember that the third person of this triad is the Lord 
of the World, called the Heartless One because he is the slave- 
driver of the Cycle of Necessity. He is the terrible ogre or 
giant of hate, so-called, who grinds our bones to make his bread. 


Lectures ok Ancient Philosophy 

The ancients were divided in their opinions concerning the 
real nature of the Demiurgus. Some affirmed him to be a devil 
because he is an agency that is ever destroying, but does he 
not wreak destruction in order that reconstruction may follow 
upon a higher level of manifestation? He is the Lord of 
Death because he controls birth and death, for these phenomena 
exist nowhere except in the world of forms. Again, some have 
attributed to him the diabolical genius of a madman who 
created a nightmare universe where everything is as it should 
not be. He is the power that binds man to the world of 
illusion, and in the terms of the early Church Fathers is the 
enemy of the eternal God (Good). 

Paraphrasing, however, the statements of Omar, the question 
may be asked: If he be evil, who placed him there? In Faust, 
Mephistopheles — the agent of the Demiurgus — is made to say, 
“I am the spirit of negation, part of the power that still works 
for good while ever scheming ill.” Accordingly, the second 
group of ancient philosophers declared the Demiurgus to be 
ever adding to the glory of God by demonstrating the insuffi- 
ciency of the form-world. He is therefore not the enemy of 
good but the eternal contrast to good necessary that man may 
realize the perfection of right. Who would know or appreciate 
good if he had not experienced the lack of it? The Lord of 
the World is therefore the master who whips man until, unable 
longer to bear the lashes of unkind destiny, the sufferer revolts 
against his own insufficiency and thus is directed into the way 
of light. In antiquity the Lord of the World was well sym- 
bolized as the master of the whip and the wielder of the flail. 
The Egyptian Pharaohs carried three scepters symbolic of their 
authority from the Demiurgus: The Anubis-hcaded staff, sym- 
bolic of the sagacity of the World Lord; the shepherd’s crook, 
symbolic of the priesthood and the authority of the World 
Lord over the souls of men; and the flail, symbolic of the 
mastery which the Demiurgus exercises over the bodies of all 

Returning to our primitive symbolism, the Anubis-hcaded 
staff is symbolized by the dot, the shepherd’s crook by the line, 
and the flail by the circle. These are representative respectively 

The Inferior Creation and its Regent 83 

of rulcrship through wisdom, rulership through faith, and ruler- 
ship through force. Thus the dot is now termed government. 
It was once the crown, but now so large a part of government 
is administered by the people that the crown can only be used 
in its abstract sense. The dot, however, signifies government 
by the state. The line is the tiara, or government by the church, 
and the circumference is the people who are the beneficiaries 
of government. Thus we find three tremendous forces con- 
tinually focussed upon the objective life of man, and the per- 
version of these forces constitutes the threefold fountain-head 
of evil as opposed to the threefold fountain-head of light. 
Through the perversion of government we have ignorance; 
through the perversion of the church, superstition; and through 
the perversion of the people, fear. Thus come into existence 
the great Masonic trio of evils: ignorance, superstition, and 
fear, the murderers of human liberty and the destroyers of 

Although we conceive ourselves to exist in a world amply 
lighted physically by the sun, and adequately illumined men- 
tally and ethically by philosophy, religion, and science, we 
actually dwell in a sphere as dark as Egypt’s night. There is 
but one true light in the universe: namely, the light of under- 
standing, a trait in which humanity is woefully deficient. The 
presence of hope, belief, and fear is definite proof that the 
world lacks knowledge and adequate spiritual perceptions. 
The darkness of this underworld is so dense that we cannot 
perceive the hearts of our fellowmen. We cannot sense the 
motives that inspire our neighbor to action, nor can we pierce 
the surrounding gloom and see that which lies but a few steps 
ahead. While humanity sojourns in this underworld of mortal 
light and spiritual darkness, it is actually passing through an 
embryonic state. Within the womb of matter fetal man is 
being prepared for birth into the greater universe of divine 
realities. The physical universe may therefore be termed the 
antechamber of Cosmos, the little room with the hole in the 
floor referred to in the Mysteries. As infant man must be 
carried for the nine months of the prenatal epoch before his 
organisms are able to bear exposure to external conditions, so 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the world must carry within the darkness of its own nature 
for nine philosophic months that mortal who is to be born into 
life and unfoldment through the substance of higher spheres. 

In ancient philosophy this physical universe is referred to as 
a great egg wherein all manners of creatures are passing through 
prenatal epochs. People have the mistaken idea that when 
they come into physical existence they are born. In their ego- 
tism they have forgotten that all mortal things are embryo 
gods who cannot achieve to Divinity until they have tran- 
scended every vestige of mortality. Every living thing is an 
embryo. In some previous embryonic state we lost our gills 
and caudal appendage. The webs of our fingers and toes were 
also cut, and our tongues loosened, but even with these evidences 
of progress we come into this world imperfect and incomplete; 
or, as the theologian would say, “we are conceived in sin and 
born in iniquity.” This statement has no reference to indis- 
cretions of our ancestors but to the philosophic fact that the 
mortal universe, when compared to the transcendency of the 
higher worlds, is a sphere of sin and death. By physical birth 
we have merely exchanged the amniotic fluids of the womb 
for the somewhat less dense atmospheric fluids of the world. 
We are still bound to the earth by an umbilical cord of sense, 
interest, and desire, and not until through the development of 
our discerning faculties we acquire the power to sever this 
bondage to the inferior nature can it be said that we are really 

This great egg surrounding the material sphere has for its 
inner surface that canopy of the heavens which man vainly 
seeks to explore with high-powered telescopes. With each 
improvement in equipment he is enabled to penetrate a little 
farther into the blue haze of SPACE. He always reaches a 
point, however, where vision fails and impenetrable SPACE 
goes on. The moment man arrives at the limit of his own 
faculties, he reaches the walls of a hypothetical sphere that 
hem him in and isolate him from the rest of Being. 

The Hermetist likened the physical universe to a glass globe 
in which were contained numberless vapors and seething forces. 

The Inferior Creator and its Regent 85 

As the agonies of chemical change may be viewed through the 
walls of the test tube, so, like the Bunsen burner, that mys- 
terious power called cosmic urge unceasingly agitates the chem- 
icals contained within the globe of physical existence. While 
enclosed within this impenetrable shell man cannot conceive of 
a universe beyond; of a state nobler or more enduring than his 
present state. 

Life is thus composed of a host of creatures, seemingly 
like atoms in SPACE whirling round and round forever with- 
in this crystalline shell of the Universal Egg. At last, however, 
comes the great day, “Be With Us,” when the Egg of the 
Universe is broken and the substances therein imprisoned flow 
back once more into their first and primitive Absoluteness. 
Thus, floating upon the face of Absolute Being is a finite globe 
destined to remain for a little while. This globe is the vast 
material universe of countless worlds and suns which over- 
whelms us with its immensity but which, when compared with 
the absolute limitlessness of SPACE, is of pigmy proportions. 
Though but an atom within the tortured body of this globe, 
humanity cherishes its dream of existence, striving with the 
feeble fingers of its mind to grasp the threads of Universal 
Wisdom by which the globe is held suspended from its un- 
known source. 

Although this globe filled with the contents of material 
existence is being hurled through space to ultimate destruction, 
the secret philosophy of the ancients taught that it was possible 
for the individual to free himself from the swirling mass and 
by right of his own divinity break through the shell of the 
World Egg and thereby achieve individual liberation. Upon 
this hypothesis nearly all the Mysteries of antiquity were estab- 
lished, a notable exception being the Jewish which taught that 
there was no liberation for one apart from all. Alchemy offers 
an excellent symbolic description of the processes of spiritual 
liberation. At this point it is apropos to consider the philo- 
sophical definition of the word spirit . This has nothing in 
common with its accepted theological meaning. In philosophy 
spirit is not the divine part of every nature considered as an 
individuality, but rather this divine part considered as one un- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

divided causal nature permeating all life. In the Buddhist 
philosophy spirit and soul are considered part of the illusion 
of matter in the sense that an individual who speaks of his spirit 
or his soul speaks without realization of the fact that there is 
but one spirit in the universe and all so-called divisions of it 
are purely hypothetical. Hence, though there may be an in- 
finity of bodies existing in the sphere of maya there is but one 
consciousness, which the Oriental mystic pleases to term the 
Self . Of not-selves there are myriads; of Self, but ope. 

To think of spirit as divided into a host of individual units, 
each embodied in a separate form, is to think in terms of error. 
To the mystic the idea of the growth of his own spirit apart 
from the growth of the spirit of all is inconceivable. That 
which grows to the point where it bursts through the Egg of 
Existence is consequently not the spirit but what the Greeks 
termed the rational soul, or the mental \nower, which repre- 
sents the highest form of individuality. It therefore follows that 
it is as impossible for one individual to have a spirit more highly 
evolved than another as for one area of the sea to be wetter 
than another. The degree of development is thus measured 
first by the extent to which the parts of the lower nature have 
been synchronized, and secondly by the interval of quality 
between them and their spiritual cause. No one has a con- 
sciousness higher than another, for there is but one conscious- 
ness in the universe. He who is presumed to have a higher 
consciousness is simply one whose organisms are fine enough 
to manifest more completely the potentialities of this single 
consciousness. Mankind may be considered as a vast organism 
with one Spirit or Self manifesting through an infinite number 
of intellectual and physical organisms, the latter deluded into 
the belief that they are free and independent. On a still higher 
level this composite Spirit of all mankind, which is merely 
an expression of the Universal Spirit of all things, is deluded, 
in turn, by the concept that mankind is different and separate 
from the rest of Universal Being. Such terms as old and young, 
highly evolved and less evolved, spiritual and material, should 
be applied only to personalities and individualities, for in the 

The Inferior Creator and its Regent 


sphere of consciousness they do not exist. As the Absolute is 
ageless, being all age, no part can technically be older than 
another. Hence difference is an illusion of the mind, but 
necessary however to the present evolution of life, yet without 
foundation in Divine Reality. 

To return to alchemy, Self or Spirit is the universal gold, 
the king of the metals. Gold exists in every element of the 
universe; even the sunlight and the atmosphere contain minute 
quantities of this precious metal. The base substances surround- 
ing this universal or spiritual gold, are referred to as the lesser 
metals. The purpose of alchemical experimentation was to 
germinate that seed of universal gold, which when properly 
nurtured would take unto itself and tincture the base metals, 
absorbing them all into its own jjlory. Ultimately Self, the only 
enduring state, thus absorbs into its own Being all the phases 
of the not-self. Touching them with its transmuting power 
it causes them to become one with its own effulgence. 

According to the Greek terminology the gold is the rational 
soul, and the transmutation process that of distilling the golden 
elixir from the base substances of ignorance and perversion. 
When you have gathered your proper elements, says the al- 
chemist, you place them in a retort and hermetically seal it. 
You then begin the cycles of distillation, causing the chemicals 
to pass through an orderly sequence of increasing intensity until 
finally a point is reached where the elixir thus distilled seeps 
through the glass without injuring it and passes off like a hot 
oil, there being no container in the world sufficiendy strong to 
hold it. The allegory is evident. The hermetically sealed vessel 
is the lower world, the way in and out stopped by the mysteries 
of birth and death. The chemicals are the heterogeneous mass 
of created things thrown together in a mysterious fashion. 
The cycles of distillation are the processes of evolution, so-called, 
by which the life is given ever fuller expression through re- 
generated vehicles and gradually released from irrationality. 
When the cycles of intensification have reached a certain stage, 
those beings who have attained to this point can no longer be 
held within the globe of the inferior creation, and the soul 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

seeps through the wall of the Egg of Existence or, as the 
Buddhist might say, enters Nirvana. This is the rebirth out of 
the Womb of Necessity; this is the time when man releases 
himself from the bonds that bind him to the Wheel of Birth 
and Death. He who has attained this end is rightly termed no 
longer a man but the Philosophers Stone. 

According to the concept of mystical philosophy, every indi- 
vidual passes through two births and two deaths. At the time 
of the first, or lesser birth, man is born into the irrational sphere 
where he becomes an objective manifesting creature but loses 
contact with the subjective spiritual spheres. Technically, there- 
fore, this birth into the outer universe results in the death of 
the higher self which must remain asleep in the tomb of ma- 
terial organisms until the Great Day of Liberation. 

The second birth is, in reality, the death of the lower nature. 
When it occurs the rational part reawakens, and rising tri- 
umphant from its rational sheath, mingles itself with the vic- 
torious and illumined Aeons. At the first birth the self dies out 
of Eternity and enters into the illusion of Time; at the second 
birth, the self ascends out of the illusion of Time and diffuses 
its being throughout the substances of Eternity. Everything 
that is born into material existence passes from a greater to a 
lesser state. 

After the elementary birth, which is the immersion of the 
rational soul into the irrational universe, the soul enters upon 
what is called the Cycle of Necessity. The Cycle of Necessity 
is simply the Wheel of Births and Deaths. During this cycle 
the temporarily individualized soul passes from one condition 
of unreality to another. The intervals between these conditions 
are the lesser births and deaths which take place within the 
World Egg. There is first the birth into the great egg, then 
the cycles of birth and death within the egg (referred to as 
reincarnation or metempsychosis), and finally the philosophic 
death out of the irrational nature forever. At the time of the 
philosophic death, which is also the second birth, the soul 
escapes from matter forever, and having pierced through the 
hypothetical wall of existence returns to the ever-enduring state 
of the Absolute. 

The Inferior Creator and its Regent 89 

By way of degression, let us consider a little more in detail 
the subject of reincarnation. There is a popular misconception 
concerning the continuity of identity throughout the cycle of 
incarnations. People are heard to say, “I wish I knew who I 
was in my last incarnation,” or “I think I must have been a 
Hindu in my last life.” According to the most profound sys- 
tems of thought, the so-called personalities which come forth 
out of the “Silent Watcher” are all pendent from this single 
cause but are not directly related to each other. Among the 
potentialities of the self is the power of projecting a host of 
individualities into temporary existence. After existing their 
appointed span, these individualities are reabsorbed into the 
Self from whose essences they were originally differentiated. 
Thus the spiritual causal nature of man is capable of objectify- 
ing periodically a chain of personalities, each a separate and 
individual creation endowed with separate and individual 

For example, John Doe is a personality, being objectified 
from an impersonal and transcendental nature, itself neither 
personal nor individual. When John Doe has finished the 
span of his physical existence, he is absorbed back into his own 
spiritual causal nature, which is not John Doe nor does it know 
John Doe, but which is an all-pervading supcrphysical life. 
When John Doe has been returned to this universal state, he 
simply ceases to exist. He will never reincarnate again, nor 
will his characteristics and traits be perpetuated. The universe 
will never again know of John Doe. After a period of inac- 
tion, however, the spiritual causal nature which gave John Doe 
being will create a new personality. This personality will 
neither remember John Doe nor associate its life in any way 
with that of John Doe, and yet certain qualities will be mani- 
fested in the new personality which could not have come into 
expression had they not passed through certain definite stages 
of growth while in the personality of John Doe. Therefore, 
the incarnating individuality of one incarnation never incar- 
nates again, but out of the spiritual origin in which this incar- 
nating life was individualized new individualized lives will be 
formed which will come into manifestation, and then in turn 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

vanish. Thus the Self gives birth to an infinite number of 
personalities, but it is the Self— not the personalities— that en- 
dures. This Self does not actually incarnate or reincarnate, but 
from itself it individualizes incarnating organisms. 

Consider for a moment the diagram at the beginning of this 
chapter. The large circle represents the Egg of Existence— the 
cosmic sphere, or aura, of the Demiurgus, — whose outer cir- 
cumference is termed the “Ring Pass Not,” or the extremity 
of manifestation. The line descending and piercing the wall 
of the great Egg is consciousness emerging from the Self and 
merging into the substances of the Egg. The point where the 
descending line breaks the wall of the circle and enters into 
the limitation of existence is the first birth — the true philosophic 
death, — for the Egg is the sepulcher in which consciousness is 
buried. Having penetrated the wall of the Egg, the line of 
consciousness begins the spiral path of the Wheel of Necessity. 
This spiral path is made up of lives and deaths, which are 
termed incarnations. At last, having through philosophy learned 
of the true mystery of existence, the consciousness breaks 
through the wall in the second death, or philosophic birth, 
and reascends to the sphere of Universal Consciousness which 
is its true dwelling place. It will thus be seen that while the 
Buddhist theory differs in minor details from the philosophic 
atheism of the Greeks, its essential nature is the same. 

In Buddhism (which, as you know, considers Deity only 
in the form of Self, or Absolute Existence, and has no concept 
of a personal God) reincarnations occur within the lower 
spheres of the Egg of Being, those spheres being considered as 
the ground wherein is set up the Wheel of Necessity. Accord- 
ingly, one great Buddhist philosopher is declared to have said: 
“Of births and deaths there are a countless number, but one 
Great Death and one Great Birth is the measure of accomplish- 
ment.” Thus are differentiated the greater and the lesser cycles. 

By divine prerogative, by the impulses controlled by law— 
which is the habit of SPACE — life is periodically immersed in 
creation, where it continues its spiral progress in the smaller 
cycle until finally it escapes through the wall of being and finds 

The Inferior Creator and its Regent 91 

perfection in its own source. Thus we have physical existence 
contrasted with divine existence. The physical birth and death 
of man is a minor mystery. As sleep is a little death, so birth 
and death are miniature cycles of existence, but the Great 
Death and the Great Birth are the supreme cycle of existence 
and the grand mystery of life. 

Although its physical nature is alone susceptible of analysis, 
there is within each so-called material creature a spiritual, or 
superphysical, part. Whether we term it spirit, soul, higher 
mind, or consciousness it is that something within the shell of 
matter which is superior to and must eventually become master 
of the irrational universe. The only reason that this higher 
part is confined within the lower world is that man as an indi- 
vidual neither appreciates this inner strength nor understands 
how to directional ize it in order that it may achieve liberation 
and carry with it to perfection the lesser parts which are under 
its domination. The rational soul, or spiritual life of man, has 
a higher origin, and is predestined to attain a far more noble 
end than is appreciable to the mortal mind with its limited 

Now comes a legitimate question: “Just how can man escape 
from the crystal ball of matter with its limiting materializing 
agencies and return to the Dawn Land from which he origin- 
ally came?” 

Liberation is to be attained most simply (according to the 
Eastern school) through the projection of consciousness. We 
have already intimated that man lives upon the level of his 
thoughts; the universe that is real to him is simply that world 
with which his thinking has attuned him. When man causes 
his consciousness to accept the reality of the illusionary uni- 
verse, he is swallowed up in the illusions he has thus affirmed. 
The moment consciousness rises above the level of illusion man 
is freed from its limiting influences. 

Man is composed of three major parts: a divine part which 
may be correlated to the dot of primitive symbolism; a super- 
human part correlated to the line; and a human or natural part 
correlated to the circle. When he lives upon the level of the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

physical plane and is controlled by his physical propensities, 
man is necessarily cn rapport with the physical universe and 
subject to the inconsistencies and incongruities of matter. When 
he lifts his consciousness above material things and lives in the 
world of his higher mind, man then dwells in the intellectual 
sphere. This is a much broader vista but still is limited to cer- 
tain fallacies of thinking, for even the higher mind with its 
magnificent grasp of the problems of lower existence is neces- 
sarily imperfect and to a great degree immersed in the maya 
of physical existence. When ultimately he lifts his conscious- 
ness above mind and thought to spiritual realization, man then 
lifts his entire nature from the intellectual to the spiritual 
world. The consummation of this elevation is the goal of human 
effort, and here and there among the elect of the earth one, 
like the great Buddha, achieves to perfect realization and ab- 
solute liberation. The path of liberation, however, is too diffi- 
cult for the majority to travel, for few will give up the lesser 
self with its likes and dislikes in exchange for an abstract 
Reality which has neither desire nor feeling but which dwells 
in unbroken contemplation throughout eternity. 

The world in which we live is simply the sphere wherein 
we have centered our activities. The higher our ideals, the 
higher are our activities, and consequently the higher is our 
world. Selfishness is the key to the inferno, for the inferno, 
or inferior universe, is ruled by selfishness. The physical world 
is that sphere controlled and directionalized by selfish urges, 
and every soul that is selfish is bound to the physical universe. 
Qualities within us bind us to forces outside which are like 
those qualities. As long as selfishness endures within our own 
souls it holds us to the sphere of selfishness without. As we 
transmute qualities within our own natures we ascend into new 
worlds of corresponding consciousness outside. 

Man is held by his materiality to the material sphere, by his 
intellectuality to the intellectual sphere, by his ideality to the 
ideal sphere. But regardless of his own viewpoints or activi- 
ties, man is eternally bound by his innate Reality to the Ab- 
solute, which is the fullness of Reality. When he has extri- 

The Inferior Creator and its Regent 


cated himself from the instincts and impulses of materiality, 
man is philosophically free from the material world. When 
the intellect within him is transmuted into idealism, man passes 
from the world of thought to that supermental sphere for which 
there is no adequate name. The philosophic ascension of the 
soul is simply the process of raising motives and activities to 
ever higher levels of idealism. 

Having lifted his mind to the contemplation of cosmic 
realities, the philosopher is no longer moved by the considera- 
tions of immature materialistic intellects. Having mastered 
material ambition, the philosopher is incapable of stooping to 
the petty accomplishments of physically-minded people. Having 
lifted himself out of the physical life, he no longer lives to 
gratify the whims of his physical nature. The true philosopher 
is free from material bondage because he ceases to desire ma- 
terial power or material possession. Incapable of desire, he is 
incapable of the sense of loss; having outgrown unimportant 
things, he is not disappointed if he does not possess them. He 
has learned with the Buddha that possession is a curse, desire 
a snare, and selfishness an illusion. Of such a sage it may be 
said that he has climbed up from the valleys of worldliness 
to the high mountains of clear thinking where the panorama 
of the greater life spreads out before him. Dwelling in his 
world of thought, the philosopher gradually achieves to the 
realization that the mind which lifted him out of matter has 
also been outgrown. The mind which made him a man will 
prevent him from becoming a god; the stone upon which he 
raised himself thus far has now become a millstone about his 
neck. Thus as the philosopher first casts off worldliness to 
dwell in the broader vista of the mind, so ultimately he casts 
ofl m/Wfulness that he may enter into the newer and greater 
vision— the rulership of intellect by spirit. He casts aside the 
thinker as he would a worn-out body, and rises from the moun- 
tain tops into the free air of SPACE to vanish gradually as an 
inconceivable speck in the vast expanse of ALL. 

As the sage sits upon his mountain about to cast aside mind 
and rise into the Nirvanic reaches of Eternity, the world passes 
in panoramic review before his enlightened vision. He secs 

94 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the great inferno spread out below him; about him on the 
mountain tops the gods of the world — the Keepers c^f the Vale 
of Tears. The illumined sage beholds the ways and byways 
of the earth, a great crisscrossed labyrinth of complexities 
wherein immortal creatures mistakenly struggle not to prove 
their own immortality but rather to establish the evidence of 
mortality. He sees life as a vast chamber with two doors, 
with birth as the entrance to and death the exit from this 
mortal span. He then understands the allegorical rituals 
through which he passed as a neophyte in that day when he 
himself was “raised” to light. He realizes that the world of 
mortal man is a gloomy subterranean sphere peopled with dis- 
torted imps who, like the Nibelungen, hoard up treasures in 
ancient crypts in obedience to the dictates of their crafty king. 
The philosopher then grasps the import of the mystical allegory 
of the rope that is lowered into the pit that those who can 
cling to it may be drawn up to life. The rope is the secret 
doctrine and those who catch hold of the swinging cable may 
be drawn up into the light of Reality and Truth, In the life 
of every struggling creature there comes a time when the insuffi- 
ciency of life within the narrow confines of matter is apparent. 
By the disciplines of illumination the soul learns how to cast 
aside the inadequate coil of mortal limitation and ascend into 
the sphere of reason, there to dwell in the luminosity of divine 
proximity. The words of Milton concerning the fall of Satan 
then become profoundly significant: 

Him the Almighty Power 
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, 

With hideous ruin and combustion, down 
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell 
In adamantine chains and penal fire, 

Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms. 

Satan, who signifies worldliness and self-sufficiency, is re- 
warded for his effort to establish a kingdom in opposition to 
the kingdom of good by being forced to dwell in the state 
of separateness which he himself conceived. In the East the 

The Interior Creator and its Regent 


illusion of separateness is looked upon as the cause of all suffer- 
ing and sorrow. The great work of primitive Buddhism was 
to emphasize the fundamental unity of life through the doctrine 
of the one Universal Self. In the Western world where com- 
petition is held to be the only sound basis of commercial prog- 
ress there is a continual wrong emphasis, for the parts are 
then arrayed against each other and no effort made to em- 
phasize the common ground of Being in which all exists as 
parts of a tremendous whole. 

The next chapter will be devoted to a consideration of the 
Eastern philosophy of perfection as accomplished by conscious 
reunion with Absolute Being through the Dharma of realiza- 
tion. The mortal sphere of competitive endeavor is hell indeed, 
wherein creatures exist in servitude to their own desires, while 
over them the Regent of the World, grim and unrelenting, sits 
with folded wings upon His throne raised on the dais of the 
Seven Heavens. 

the mystery of realization 

The Oriental mystic is here diagrammatically shown seated in the midst of hit 
‘T? , arca ®r ^nsCKMsness. Through the disciplines of his order he is enabled to » 
withdraw himself from the concerns of the outer life as to dwell in a samadhic felicity* 
Thus the aspiring soul seeks Self in the selflessness of the Great Law. 


The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 

r P HE gods have already been defined as personifications of 
* divine attributes, that is, they signify conditions of Uni- 
versal Consciousness. Whereas the Absolute signifies All Con- 
sciousness in suspension, the gods are differentiated phases of 
Universal Consciousness. While the ignorant venerate the gods 
either as personalities or divine beings, the philosopher recog- 
nizes them as cosmic planes or modes of, realization. Thus 
Buddha is to be regarded primarily as the condition of perfect 
illumination rather than as a personality. 

A subtle point is contained in the fact that he who attains 
to Buddhahood is not a Buddha but t he Buddha. In other 
words Buddha, like light, is an all-pervading state, and he who 
becomes luminous shines not with a separate light but rather 
is merged with the one light whose radiance is diffused through- 
out all worlds. In its ascent to source, consciousness is merged 
sequentially with ever higher universal aspects of itself, becom- 
ing one with each level or plane with which it is temporarily 
blended. These planes or levels, representing the various 
phases of expanding consciousness, form the concatenated order 
of the gods. Hades, for example, was the Greek god of death 
or, more explicitly, materiality. Accordingly, Hades represents 
the consciousness of materiality. 

Whoever moves and feels in terms of materiality is material- 
ity, for we are what our consciousness is. The modern thinker 
would term the material-minded person a materialist. The 
esoterist, however, would say that the material-minded person 
is materiality. Again, the western scholar considers a law- 
breaker a criminal, whereas the Oriental thinks of the law- 
breaker as crime. If, therefore, the Eastern sage conceives of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

crime as an individualized monster, then each criminal becomes 
not an individual expression of that monster but the actual 
monster itself. Hate, for example, can hardly be thought of as 
an individual, and yet it is definitely a state of consciousness 
(more correctly, unconsciousness). The Eastern mind cannot 
conceive of a number of entities each a separate condition of 
hatred, because the moment hatred is born in the human heart 
the person who permits this condition to exist within himself 
becomes the embodiment of the plane of universal hatred. 
In other words, a universal condition is made manifest in that 
individual. Several men may hate at the same time in different 
parts of the world, yet there is but one consciousness of hatred 
with which they all hate. Hence this demon of hate may 
exist in more than one person simultaneously, During a great 
war millions may hate at the same time, yet each is neither a 
fraction of hatred nor simply manifesting hatred. Each is him- 
self hate, and all who indulge this passion are identical with 
the nature of hatred. 

The multiform images of the Buddhists all signify exten- 
sions and modes of consciousness. As realization increases 
and the unfolding self grasps more and more of the infinite 
span, the symbols become ever more complex while the prin- 
ciples for which they stand become ever more simple. Fre- 
quently a number of arms are used to represent the metaphysical 
potencies. Thus the consciousness of right judgment may be 
depicted as a hand holding some legal instrument. Similarly, 
the consciousness of priestly protection by another arm sustain- 
ing some implement of the priestcraft; the consciousness of 
rulership by still another arm elevating a crown or scepter; 
the consciousness of the good and just physician by a hand 
holding some instrument of surgery or healing herb; the con- 
sciousness of all-knowing by a hand holding a short staff or 
a scroll; and the consciousness of the divine avenger by a 
closed fist shaking a thunderbolt. A plurality of arms and 
heads thus becomes a method highly appropriate to symbolize 
the invisible but all-powerful qualities which the chela during 
his development expresses through the depth of his own being. 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 99 

Whenever through self-unfoldment an individual attains to 
the state of consciousness symbolized by a certain god, then 
that god is declared to be incarnate in that personality and to 
actually walk the earth. Thus the god of joy is incarnate in the 
joyful man, the god of mercy in the merciful, the god of truth 
in the truthful, and the god of war in those who fight. Being 
divine attributes, the gods thus become flesh in those mortal 
creatures who have unfolded and given expression within them- 
selves to those godlike attributes. 

In the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Kyoto, Japan, 
are to be found numberless images of the Buddha and the 
attendant Bodhisattvas, or disciples of the Lord of Enlighten- 
ment. Perfection is represented in the form of the Buddha, 
and the disciplines or ways of perfection in the forms of 
Bodhisattvas. The latter are the stages of enlightenment, the 
symbols of the sure and eternal path which winds through 
the illusion and leads ultimately to the attainment of perfect 

Dear to the heart of the East is the beloved Kwan-Yin, or 
Kwannon, the great Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara, the Oriental 
Madonna, commonly called the Goddess of Mercy. For cen- 
turies the Buddhist monks have striven in their meditations to 
blend their consciousness with this divinity of compassion — the 
Merciful, Enduring One. The artists-priests have loved to 
depict upon silk or carve in stone, wood, or ivory the form of 
this compassionate “Consciousness of Protection.’* 

Kwan-Yin was originally a masculine figure, probably based 
upon an historical Buddha (presumably the second of the great 
line), but through the centuries the compassionate nature of 
Avalokiteswara is responsible for the gradual metamorphosis 
of the figure into a feminine divinity. In China and Japan 
Kwan-Yin is usually a standing figure robed in graceful flow- 
ing gau.ients with the face set in compassionate repose. Often 
the figure has only two arms, although a favorite number is 
six. When shown with six arms, Kwan-Yin is generally seated 
with her head resting upon the palm of her hand. In Japan 
there are figures of the Kwan-Yin with as many as a thousand 

101 ) 

Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

arms to symbolize the universal scope of the Kwan-Yin con- 
sciousness. In Tibet the figure is often shown with eleven 
heads. Certain late Buddhist writings give definite philosoph- 
ical meaning to numbers, so the multiplicity of members is of 
particular import. 

The poses of the various hands give a key to the exalted 
nature of Eastern mysticism. The mudras, or hand postures 
of the Buddha, constitute a secret science of which little is 
known to those not initiated into the Buddhist Mysteries. The 
hand may be extended in an attitude of giving, which then 
signifies the consciousness of giving, and which, when free from 
all terrestrial taint, gives an exquisite pleasure to the inner self. 
The joy of giving is a commendable state of consciousness, as 
is also the joy of receiving. All these joys are finally discarded, 
however, until but one remains: namely, the perfect bliss of 
contemplation of Self. 

In Japan there is a lovable Buddhist divinity usually shown 
with a bald head and a benign countenance. This is Jizo, 
the god of little children. Because of his great love for helpless 
child souls, Jizo has become their patron and protector. When 
a baby dies, according to the Japanese legend, it wanders in 
a gloomy cavern awaiting rebirth, where it has for its only task 
the heaping up of little piles of stones. In his Glimpses of Un- 
familiar Japan Lafcadio Hearn describes the cave of the chil- 
dren s souls where flows the legendary fountain of milk from 
which the dead children drink and where in the gloom sits 
the smiling Jizo. When the evil spirits frighten them the 
loving Jizo extends his arms and the childrens souls all run and 
hide in the sleeves of his kimono. 

It is evident that Jizo signifies not only the consciousness of 
the love of children but also, in a more lofty sense, that con- 
sciousness which, having elevated itself to the heights of realiza- 
tion and gazing down upon unknowing humanity, realizes all 
creatures to be but little children piling up heaps of stones. 
Whether these piles be in the distant Japanese cave of Kaka or 
the stone heaps of a great city, Jizo gazes with boundless com- 
passion upon infant humanity. When the monsters of war, 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 101 

greed, and lust frighten the ignorant and immature, he then 
extends his arms, and like the Master Jesus brooding over 
Jerusalem longs to gather the weak and helpless under the pro- 
tection of his flowing robes. The god Jizo is incarnate in those 
in whom love for the weak and desire to serve the helpless 
springs from a true realization of that which must be accom- 
plished. Jizo is a principle, and those possessing and manifest- 
ing this principle are one with him in his labor of love. 

In the Tushita heaven of the Lamas dwells the radiant 
consciousness of Maitreya, the loving one, the desired of all 
nations— the Buddhist Messiah who is yet to come. This Bodhi- 
sattva is the personification of man’s hope of ultimate achieve- 
ment. He signifies the eternal tomorrow, the time of all accom- 
plishment. Robed in futurity, he is the consciousness of noble 
destiny. At the Lama temple in Peking is to be seen a gigantic 
figure of Jam-pa (Maitreya), whose gilt lacquered body dazzles 
the beholder with its brilliance and whose expressionless face 
gazes down upon the altar seventy feet below. Maitreya gives 
a definite key to the world-wide belief in a coming Savior whose 
advent will be marked by miracles and who shall lead his 
people to spiritual and temporal victory. Maitreya is the con- 
sciousness of hope and he comes to those who can sense, even 
abstractly, the existence of a nobler and more illumined state. 
According to popular superstition, the advent of Maitreya, like 
the tenth avatar of Vishnu, will be a particular and definite 
occurrence. In reality, however, Maitreya is continually mani- 
festing as the circumstances that lead worlds, nations, and indi- 
viduals up along the path of the law to final absorption with 
the Absolute. Maitreya saves the world by revealing to the 
world that it is capable of salvation; for out of the realization 
of possible perfection is born the hope and strength to persevere. 
Maitreya is therefore the embodimnt of Dharma, and he who 
accepts the Law shall be saved by the Law. Jesus, another 
personification of the Law, assured his followers that those 
who believed in him should not perish. Maitreya is the way, 
the truth, and the life which, coming to every life, redeems 
all who accept it. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In dealing with the subject of consciousness, it is possible to 
conceive of Reality as permeating the entire area of space and 
gradually contracting itself toward the center, thereby limit- 
ing itself in the establishment of unreality. Or, on the other 
hand, consciousness may be regarded as occupying a central 
point from which it radiates itself throughout all Being, pour- 
ing its effulgence into the Abyss of the not-self, which is there- 
by redeemed. The Cabalists reconciled both these viewpoints 
by affirming that AIN SOPH (the Absolute) first retired from 
the circumference to the center to establish the illusion and 
then diffused itself over the area privated by its first withdrawal, 
thus re-establishing Reality. 

The Ptolemaic system of astronomy, though untrue from a 
scientific point of view, clarifies one of the esoteric teachings 
of ancient learning so long misconstrued by modern scholars. 
By placing the earth in the center of the solar system and divid- 
ing the interval between the earth and the inner wall of the 
heavens by a number of planes corresponding to the orbits of 
the planetary bodies, a diagrammatic figure of consciousness 
and its extensions is created. Outside the orbit of the earth 
were the spheres of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, 
Jupiter, and Saturn in the order noted. Beyond the sphere 
of Saturn was the plane of the constellations which formed the 
inner surface of the zodiacal globe. Outside this globe was the 
Empyrean, or dwelling place of the gods. The Mysteries 
taught that man must ascend in realization from the earth 
through the rings (or planes) of the planets to the circle of the 
zodiac. Having reached the wall of heaven, he was then to 
break through and enter the supreme universe. After realiza- 
tion has pierced the crystalline shell of Being, it then ceases to 
be under the jurisdiction of the Governors of the seven planets 
and the vast body of cosmic agencies controlling all mundane 
creations. The student, however, should not conceive of his 
consciousness as rising but rather of his inferior self ascending 
through various levels of consciousness to ultimate union with 
the All-Knowing. 

This idea requires further amplification. What man pleases 
to call his spirit is, in reality, the level of Self to which he is 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 


attuned by the quality and completeness of his realization. 
The Oriental symbolizes Universal Self as an immense sunburst, 
its inconceivably magnificent center surrounded by innumer- 
able rings of petal-like emanations, which decrease in brilliancy 
as they recede from the center. This sunburst fills all con- 
ceivable space, extending from up to down and from in to out, 
and each of its petals, or rays, supports (in the sense of being 
the causal nature of) a definite genus of so-called evolving life. 
Thus the infinite diversity of manifestation reflects the infinite 
potentialities of the causal nature. The question may properly 
be asked how the Self, though an absolute unity and hence in- 
capable of diversity, can still exist in a number of apparently 
different states. To employ a simple analogy, let us take two 
goblets, one containing wine and the other water. The wine 
will symbolize Self; the water, the illusionary universe of pri- 
vation of the Self (the Abyss of the German mystics). If a 
small quantity of the wine be poured into the water, the wine 
will undergo no actual change, yet it will be so diluted as to 
be apparently different from its original state. Then imagine 
all the wine to be divided into single drops which are allowed 
to fall into the water one at a time. Each drop will cause a 
minute but definite difference in the degree of dilution and, 
consequently, the wine will exist in as many conditions as there 
are degrees of dilution. Yet the wine will actually undergo 
no change, and regardless of how much water is added it will 
still remain a single substance. Thus the infinite diversity of 
manifestation has its origin not in separate spiritual agencies 
but in the conditions which the Self is capable of assuming in 
relation to its own absence. 

In East Indian philosophy the human figure is substituted 
for the earth; otherwise the Ptolemaic system of the planets is 
preserved, the outermost orbit becoming the boundary of limita- 
tion that separates the individual from the universal state. 
Sitting in meditation in the midst of his little universe, the 
philosopher by definite projection of the faculties of realization 
annihilates one by one the walls that enclose him until finally 
with one supreme effort he shatters the globe of his individual- 
ity and achieves Nirvana. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Let us try to conceive the process whereby the mystic tran- 
scends all environment and becomes en rapport with universal 
principles- Recognizing in the orbits of the planets certain 
major levels of realization, it soon becomes evident that the 
mind per se in unable to cope with the situation, for in spiritual 
concerns the intellect is well-nigh powerless. In an effort to 
explain simply the theory, let us presume that the earth in the 
center of the Ptolemaic chart represents the state of absolute 
ignorance, and the Empyrean beyond the circle of the zodiac, 
absolute wisdom or consciousness. 

Humanity numbers in its ranks many so-called worldly-wise 
men — powerful intellects thickly encrusted with the catalogued 
notions and superstitions of others. Since all material knowl- 
edge is added on from without, under the stress of desperate 
need the inner nature is discovered to be incapable of sustain- 
ing the intellectual conceits thus foisted upon it. On the other 
hand, realization is a power which has its source within the 
inner nature itself. Like the balm of Gilead it brings with it 
peace, courage, and understanding. It tinctures the outer na- 
ture with a spiritual comprehension, giving an intuitive grasp 
of facts and the power to discern Reality. It may therefore be 
stated that the fundamental difference between knowledge and 
understanding lies in the direction of the flow of power, knowl- 
edge flowing in from without and undesrtanding flowing out 
from within. Realization is consequently a problem of the 
inner life and can receive little assistance from the outer nature. 
The mind creates elaborate theologies and intricate systems of 
reasoning which are without other than intellectual foundation, 
and in moments of dire need it is all too apparent that these 
adumbrations lack the substance of sufficiency. Hence, to 
convert an individual by outer means is useless, for true con- 
version can only come through the inner realization of certain 
divine or natural facts. To affirm oneself to occupy a certain 
position in the universe means nothing, but to realize the na- 
ture of a certain position or condition is to be one with that 
condition or to occupy that position. 

While Ptolemy knew that the earth was not the center of the 
solar system, he also knew that earthiness was the beginning point 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 


of all achievement and that each struggling creature rising 
from its own earthiness must ascend through the circles of 
realization to eventually achieve complete liberation from the 
grossness of inferior nature. Seated in the midst of the circles 
and separated from the Universal Self by seven great walls 
of limitation of consciousness, the unillumincd nature dwells 
in a state of isolation, accepting in its ignorance the illusion of 
diversity and regarding all creation as conspiring to bring about 
its destruction. Man must attain the realization necessary for 
his liberation by one of two paths: (1) He must follow the 
apparently endless spiral of life which leads in and through 
creation and eventually brings him to realization through ex- 
perience. This experience is largely the essence of the reactions 
of joy and sorrow together with the recognition of the sequence 
of cause and effect in all the incidents of life. (2) By the 
Dharma of Realization the disciple may so intensify his atti- 
tudes through philosophic discipline as to achieve in a com- 
paratively brief period of time that which the mass of humanity 
must attain by the slower and more circuitous route of natural 

Through realization alone can the Great Work be consum- 
mated. Only he who possesses realization is able to dispel the 
illusion of diversity. The true magnitude of an individual is 
measured by both the intensiveness and extensiveness of his 
realization, for the individual extends in every direction as far 
as his realization is capable of penetrating. For example, in 
his least illumined state man is but a mere speck in the midst 
of universal expanse. In his most illumined state, however, 
man has so increased in rational magnitude that universal 
expanse becomes a mere speck within his realization. In his 
ignorance man conceives the universe as including him, only 
to ultimately discover that his divine potentialities are so bound- 
less that, when adequately manifested, the universe and count- 
less vistas unmeasured are but infinitesimal parts of his own 
being. In Pythagorean terminology, man in his relapsed states 
conceives himself to be one of many, only to find upon arrival 
at the fullness of understanding that he has encircled the many 
and resolved them into his own unity. 

106 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The figure seated in the rings represents the mystic direc- 
tionalizing his realization upon the Eternal. By this process 
he recapitulates the entire scheme of universal unfoldment, and 
reveals the causal urge behind all racial and individual develop- 
ment. In the diagram the rings are numbered from 1 to 7. 
The first ring immediately surrounds the seated form of the 
sage, and the area thus enclosed by it, being the smallest divi- 
sion, signifies the most limited state of realization. Those 
whose poverty of realization restricts them to this level of con- 
sciousness may be considered ignorant to the degree of the 
savage. Here the life is ruled by fear and hatred— fear of the 
unknown and hatred for that which possesses superior knowl- 
edge. With crude implements and cruder instincts these un- 
knowing ones seek to fulfill Nature’s first law, self-preservation. 
The finer emotions and sentiments are entirely absent, and 
the organic quality of the body is so low that the capacity for 
physical pain is thereby reduced to a minimum. Understanding 
is totally lacking, but in its place is a certain primitive cunning 
which warns of danger and instructs in the rudiments of phys- 
ical survival. Little or no effort is made by this type to com- 
municate its attitudes or feeling to others. It does not establish 
any definite communal life, but lives by itself and for itself 
alone, and finally creeps away to die leaving its unburied bones 
to bleach upon some wind-blown crag. 

Though civilization has reached practically every corner of 
the earth and savage tribes are fast vanishing before its advance, 
it is possible to veneer the exterior and still leave the interior 
nature as primitive as ever. The addition of a Prince Albert 
coat or a pair of spats does not necessarily result in a highly 
advanced degree of culture, for many people suspected of con- 
siderable refinement are still innately barbaric. In fact, all who 
advocate isolated individualism are reverting to aboriginal type. 
Whenever the activities of life are centered exclusively upon the 
aggrandizement of the lesser self, such an attitude is unfailing 
evidence of the survival of Crookbone traits. Where the indi- 
vidual is completely wrapped up in himself, feels himself 
sufficient for himself, and regards all humanity as legitimate 
prey for exploitation, we have definite proof that his conscious- 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 


ness is still limited to the narrow confines of the first ring. 
The universe beyond means nothing to him, for beyond his 
realization it has no existence. 

When the meditating sage elevates his realization until it 
recognizes the insufficiency of such a code and can no longer 
live in this sense of utter separateness, then the first ring is said 
to be annihilated and the realization sweeps outward to meet 
the limiting confines of the second ring. The circle of realiza- 
tion has thus been considerably enlarged and the self has taken 
the first step to escape from the not-self. As growth is synony- 
mous with increasing inclusiveness, the individual functioning 
upon the level of consciousness of the second ring accepts into 
himself a limited number of external objects. In the dawn of 
civilization the family was lifted to a certain degree of equality 
with the individual who constituted himself its head. Such an 
individual still viewed the world as hostile, but out of it he 
chose a few and these he accepted on a parity with himself. 
His sense of protection included them; his love of self regarded 
them as part of himself and consequently legitimate objects 
for his affection. To a certain degree he viewed the members 
of his family as possessions, but psychologically he possessed 
them because his realization included them; for nothing can be 
actually possessed unless it is enclosed by the realization of 

There is to be found in human nature an inherent trait 
which causes each individual to feel himself to be different 
from any other living thing and consequently superior to and 
free from the laws governing the body of creation. In this ring 
the individual rises to that state of consciousness where he de- 
cides that those of his immediate circle upon whom he confers 
his affections are likewise composed of this superior substance 
and, like himself, differ from the rest of society. However, the 
fact that even one or two are included with self demonstrates 
that the annihilation of the sense of diversity has begun, for as 
the self accepts into itself that which was previously a stranger 
to it, the cosmic march toward unity begins and continues until 
all existence has thus been absorbed. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Today there are millions of people whose spiritual natures 
are the substance of the second ring. They will cheat the world 
that they may lavish their ill-gotten gains upon their own 
family circle. Humanity at large is still a stranger to them; 
their realization fails to recognize in all mankind the common 
heritage of similar loves, hopes, fears, and aspirations. This 
particular thought brings to mind the plea of Shylock in the 
third act of the Merchant of Venice for scattered and down- 
trodden Israel. By taking a few liberties with Shylock’s speech, 
a truth is established beyond the conception of those whose 
realization limits them to the consciousness of the second ring. 
“Have not all men eyes; have not all men hands, organs, 
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; are not all men fed with 
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the 
same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled 
by the same summer and winter as you are? If you prick 
them, do they not bleed; if you tickle them, do they not laugh; 
if you poison them, do they not die?” 

To summarize, the consciousness of the second ring covers 
blood relations and those upon whom particular affections are 
lavished: the mother, father, husband, wife, and child. These 
are accepted as parts of self and the work of unification has 
been inaugurated; for while in the first ring these are five 
separate people, in the second ring they are included as mem- 
bers of the one in whom the realization of their proximity has 
been established. 

When realization increases to the point where it includes 
the stranger without the gate, the spirit of friendship is born. 
A friend is one to whom we are related by consciousness rather 
than by blood. Pythagoras declared his friend to be his alter ego 
— his other self. At another time he stated friendship to be 
that condition in which one soul existed in two bodies, thereby 
elevating this relationship far above that of the ties of blood. 
Until realization reaches the third plane friendship is impos- 
sible because up to that point egotism is so dominant a motive 
that man’s love for himself precludes all other affections. 
When realization annihilates the substances of the second ring 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 


and flows through into its enlarged field of expression, the 
tribal (later the national) spirit is evolved. A certain clannish- 
ness is manifested, for though the great world without is still 
excluded, nevertheless the sense of inclusiveness has been in- 
creased to take in those having a similar origin or living in 
close proximity. Having one leader, the tribe is simply an 
enlarged family, the chief or head symbolizing the father; for 
nearly all tribal forms of government are patriarchies. 

Eventually the tribe grows into the nation and there is born 
a curious mental attitude termed patriotism . Patriotism is 
merely an accentuated egotism which embraces the members of 
the tribe or nation to which the egotist himself belongs. Funda- 
mentally it is based upon the belief that that of which the 
individual is a part, is, like himself, incapable of wrong. Con- 
sequently all examination of motive is regarded as superflous, 
and the attitude that “I and mine are right and you and yours 
are wrong” is an attitude to be assumed and maintained at all 
costs. Long regarded as a virtue, patriotism will yet demon- 
strate itself to be a most pernicious attitude, for it can be and 
has been controlled and directionalized by personal interest, 
frequently to tragic ends. 

To affirm that an individual can do no wrong merely be- 
cause he is of the same blood or clan as oneself, and to defend 
him because of such relationship is a fault, and contributes 
to his own moral delinquency and the destruction of the nation. 
There can be but one true patriotism: namely, patriotism to 
principle. But those dwelling in the consciousness of the 
third ring are as yet unaware of principle, and to them their 
tribe or nation is elevated to a position approximating Deity. 
Yet with all his faults and blindness, the one who has 
attained to this degree of consciousness, has gone far in the 
mastery of diversity, for his realization has increased until in 
part, at least, it has included an entire nation within the range 
of common interest. True, it has not yet learned to understand 
the structure and consciousness of nations, but this comes later. 
Here is the man who will die for his friend but cannot possibly 
understand his friend ; for he serves not the consciousness of his 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

friend but rather his own preconceived standard of friendship. 
It may therefore be said, regardless of the actual integrity of 
the friend himself, that he dies nor for his friend but for his 
own concept of friendship. Man creates standards and later 
serves them as though they were divine creations, only to dis- 
cover ultimately that Deity had no hand in their fashioning. 

When the sage, seated in the midst of his rings of con- 
sciousness, elevates his realization to the sphere of the fourth 
ring, he passes from national to racial concerns. His ever 
increasing vista of understanding has revealed to him that the 
inhabitants of earth are not merely isolated individuals nor 
even families and tribes, but rather can be classified under a 
few racial headings. It naturally follows that the mind estab- 
lishes comparisons between the relative superiority of these 
races; also that the unillumined man should upon some pretext 
or other elevate the particular race of which he is a part to the 
position of superiority. If at the time of making the compar- 
ison his own nation occupies a position that is evidently inferior, 
he will philosophize upon their past glory or dream of their 
future ascendancy. Such an individual, however, continues to 
annihilate diversity, for in his analysis of peoples he no longer 
conceives of a billion and a half separate units but rather of a 
score of major segments, each composed of a vast number of 
lesser parts. 

f rom this attitude is born the racial spirit: we have “chosen” 
peoples and “rejected” peoples, racial gods, racial attitudes, and 
racial prejudices. Practically all civilized humanity is now 
in the throes of racial upheaval. The white man regards the 
black man as his inferior. Throughout the Southern States 
there is a definite color line drawn which in some cases is 
incalculably unjust. There are schools in the United States 
where the pupils, encouraged by parents of puerile intelligence, 
have risen in a body and refused to admit the enrollment of 
colored children in their classes. While the white man views 
with contempt the black man, he considers with ever increas- 
ing alarm the machinations of the yellow man and the brown 
man. The lot of the red man apparently gives his white 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 111 

brother little concern, for the latter feels that the work of 
extermination goes on apace. It is interesting to note at this 
stage the effort man makes not to be inclusive; for he seems 
to fear lest he should learn to love everything so much that he 
would have nothing left to hate. 

The question of sex equality becomes an issue during this 
period and man has undertaken to determine whether woman 
really has the consciousness of a human being or whether she 
must depend upon man for rational intelligence. We sec 
people everywhere who function upon this level of the fourth 
ring. They are called broad-minded, charitable citizens with 
progressive ideas. In many instances they foster foreign mis- 
sions and believe in spreading the white man’s light through- 
out the dark and gloomy areas where the benighted non-Aryans 
reside. As Charles Erskine Scott Wood has noted, they discuss 
the holy war of Christendom and the unholy wars of the bar- 
barians! They are more or less patronizing and condescending 
in their attitudes, feeling that by reason of their exalted status 
they can well afford to be “nice” to their less fortunate younger 
brothers. Such people do not compare favorably with those 
few outstanding examples of intelligence produced by the 
world. If contrasted, however, with the primitive attitudes of 
the first ring, their progress is apparent. These people arc 
trying to be big, but are bound to their littleness by precedent, 
environment, education, and fear. They dread to be on the 
unpopular side of any issue, yet sincerely wish that the popular 
side might occasionally be the right side. 

In ancient astrology the fourth plane— that of the sun— 
was regarded as a middle point dividing the inferior or sub- 
solar planets from the superior orbs moving outside the solar 
orbit. It naturally follows that when the realization has been 
lifted to the consciousness of the fifth circle it should concern 
itself with greater verities. He who has reached this stage is 
capable of understanding the immortal words of Thomas Paine: 
“The world is my country, and to do good is my religion.” The 
only defect in the slogan is the lack of definite understanding 
regarding the word good. The ideal is an excellent one but 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

its fulfillment is very difficult, for good can never be discovered 
as long as the individual considers himself its true criterion. 

Having thus pierced all the rings of consciousness to the 
fifth, realization has now reached that point where it begins to 
recognize the magnitude of the plan behind manifesting life. 
The concerns of nations and the politics of men then recede 
into insignificance; for from this comparatively exalted level 
of realization humanity is viewed as a single unit. 

At this stage there also comes the realization that human 
life is not the only rational manifestation of Deity. Conscious- 
ness and intelligence are recognized in the lower kingdoms, 
and brotherhood extends to all corners of the earth, including 
all races and species without distinction. The vastness of the 
whole and the infinitesimal smallness of the part we call the 
world begins to be apparent. Upon this level philosophy 
begins,— that is, philosophy as apart from the individualistic 
codes established by primitive man with no thought for that 
which was beyond the vista of his own comprehension. The 
principles of justice emerge from the codes of primitive retri- 
bution. Power becomes thoughtful of weakness and might 
considerate of that which is less than itself. From the code of 
the survival of the fittest comes the realization that it is pos- 
sible to make fit the unfit that all may survive. The subtler 
virtues are elevated above the grosser propensities and grace 
and beauty are regarded as superior to strength. 

Although truth is still but a concept, the increasing realiza- 
tion gives the sense of magnitude which overawes and causes 
the half awakened faculties to glimpse the immeasurable that 
lies beyond. The sage within is coming into himself; the sky 
wanderer is casting off the bonds which bind him to earth; the 
voices of the Seven Spheres are calling and something far down 
in the depths of man’s nature is tugging at its fetters, crying 
out for freedom to join in the ecstatic dance of life. Having 
raised himself to the contemplation of the world and its mys- 
tery, the sage finds himself one with the world and its mys- 
tery, his heart merged with the heart of the world, his mind 
teeming with the thoughts of the world, his whole being filled 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 113 

with the longings of the world. He ultimately reaches the state 
where he may truthfully say that he understands the world, 
for man understands what he is and is what he understands. 

When realization pierces the sixth ring and blends itself 
with the consciousness of that plane, it is declared that the 
individual transcends individual concerns and becomes a citizen 
of the universe. His kinship with the sun, the moon, and the 
stars is established; for the consciousness that was formerly 
individual discovers individuality to be a limiting and binding 
illusion. Of such souls as have attained to this exalted state 
are the Bodhisattvas,— those who stand at the very gateway 
of liberation. These exalted ones may still turn back and as 
Elder Brothers walk the dusty roads of the lower worlds; but 
before them the swinging veils of Eternity are very thin and 
the voice of the great sea of Reality calls to them to immerse 
their lesser selves in its limitless expanse. To describe the con- 
sciousness of those so proximate to Reality is a futile undertak- 
ing for any one not so illumined. It can only be said that 
such as these brood over mortality, and leaning from the case- 
ments of heaven regard with solicitude divine this mundane 
sphere. These are the Great Ones who walk from star to star, 
whose souls are so vast that the whirling bodies of the firma- 
ment are encircled by them. These are the ones who gaze 
straight into the face of the sun unblinded. 

The Oriental mind conceives these illumined and perfected 
ones to be vast beings whose statures extend from earth to 
heaven, whose feet rest upon pink lotus buds, and whose flow- 
ing draperies reveal in their grace the innate perfection of the 
wearer. Nowhere in all the mighty figure is a single incon- 
gruity to be found. The long, slender fingers either assume 
the mudras with perfect rhythm or hold the symbols of divine 
accomplishment. Surrounded by its blazing nimbus, the noble 
head is set in absolute repose, yet in the awesomeness of its 
grandeur there is nothing to inspire fear, for the perfected ones 
are not terrible in power but rather beautiful in humility. 
Though the great face of the Bodhisattva blazes like burnished 
gold, there is in it that sweet repose which makes all who be- 

114 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

hold it cease their strivings and enter into meditation. The 
jewels in the crown gleam and glisten with a holy light, 
and the clanking rings upon the mendicant’s staff sound the 
music of the spheres. With his feet rising from the earth in 
lotus cups and his head blended with the heavens, the Bodhi- 
sattva thus stands as the embodiment of those redeeming graces 
which, latent in most men, have been awakened and brought 
to full expression through the aeons of preparation. The lips 
of the illumined are as lotus buds, for they have been perfected 
through ages of perfect speech and from them issue the words 
of perfect wisdom. The half-closed eyes contemplate the mea- 
sureless vistas in whose depths resides the perfect Buddha, and 
toward this ultimate that lies beyond the seventh ring the 
Great One thus directs the ageles: chant of the Law: 

I take my refuge in Thy Name and Thee! 

I take my refuge in Thy Law of Good! 

I take my refuge in Thy Order! OMI 

It is not written that the lesser shall include the greater in 
its scope of awareness. It is impossible, therefore, to trace the 
magnitude of that illumination which, standing at the threshold 
of Reality, already glimpses the Endless. Of this conscious- 
ness all that can be said is that, robed in its own exaltedness, 
it awaits the day when it shall be merged with the All. 

At last for the aspiring soul there comes the Great Day 
“Be With Us,” which is indeed the end of all beginnings. 
This day, that has a dawn but no sunset, begins in time and 
lasts throughout eternity. Diversity has been completely ab- 
sorbed and naught remains save the meditating saint and the 
Absolute. The iridescent bubble of being now floats upon the 
great Ocean from whose primordial spray it was fashioned. 
For one breathless, unmeasurable second of time the bubble 
hangs suspended, an opalescent sphere. Against its confining 
walls the imprisoned sage hurls the blazing thunderbolt of his 
will. The bubble bursts and instantly disappears except for a 
fine mist that settles back into the endless sea. 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 


Thus is accomplished the annihilation of the last ring of 
illusion, when realization becomes so exalted as to be incapable 
of further qualification; when nothing but All is sufficient and 
the multitude of illusions — including the dream of existence — 
have been dissipated. The leering Yama (the god of illusion) 
who sought to grasp the bubble and its holy contents, retires 
discomfited, for the perfected one has escaped into the Refuge 
that endures. No more will the illumined one walk with man; 
his last discourse has been given; for the last time he has taken 
upon himself the veil of sorrow, for he has now merged him- 
self with the Law that is his Refuge. Those who seek the 
perfected one must search for him in perfection, for he has 
become one with all the good which he sought. He is identical 
with the beauty that he served; he is the truth whose actuality 
he conceived; he is the sure foundation that is the absolute 

To the disciples left behind, the Master who passes into Nir- 
vana is one who has passed out of the world which shall cease, 
into the world which ceases not. He has become one with all 
the permanence that is and through all the manifestations of 
Infinite Law he is revealed. He has become one with the finger 
that traces the sunsets upon the western sky; one with the god 
of morning who, parting the curtains of night, ushers in the 
day; one with the winds and the rains. He gazes down from 
the blue mists of heaven and up from the dark mystery of the 
earth; his voice is heard in the mantra and his eloquence in the 
booming of the temple gong; his strength is made manifest in 
the Law and his meekness in the humility of the mendicant. 

The one gone has ceased to be somewhere but has grown 
to be everywhere , for he has found Reality and is himself one 
with that which all men seek. One by one the aspiring soul 
has discarded the limiting rings of consciousness. From the 
least to the greatest he has risen, and this he has accomplished 
by becoming the least among the least. With one supreme 
effort of realization he has renounced death and become death- 
less; he has willingly surrendered life and become lifeless. 
So, lifeless and deathless, he remains immovable in Eternity. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Climbing up the ladder of the stars he has followed the path 
to perfection; he has walked the Middle Road which has been 
established since the beginning of the world; he has followed 
in the footsteps of the sages gone before, and after him will 
come myriads yet unborn, until sometime the way to Nirvana 
shall be the royal road by which all humanity passes from the 
ephemerality of mortal existence to the unchangcablencss of 
divine existence. 

He who attains the Absolute is himself the Absolute; for 
while all men contemplate some world to which their con- 
sciousness has attuned them, he who has attained the Absolute 
contemplates only the inconceivable perfection of the Absolute 
itself. United with that which eternally endures, the perfected 
soul is freed forever from the illusion of change, of difference, 
of time, and of distance. 

It is useless, however, to attempt an analysis of the con- 
sciousness of the one in whom consciousness has thus been 
merged with Reality. While we struggle impotently with the 
tangled skein of life, such a one has gathered all its strands 
together and rewound the line of life to its own beginning. 
While we are borne upon its surface, powerless to stem its cur- 
rents, such a one has reversed the waters of the river of life and 
caused them to flow back to their own source. 

Having revealed to all men through his life the fulfillment 
of the Law and having preached his farewell sermon that all 
might understand, the great Buddha entered Nirvana. Having 
by his resurrection demonstrated to all mankind the illusion 
of death, the Master Jesus ascended into the aeons to be united 
with his heavenly Father. Having demonstrated that justice 
alone shall survive, Socrates drank the hemlock and with perfect 
realization exchanged the death of life for the life of death. 
Certain of the Reality that lies beyond, and given courage by 
ever increasing vistas of consciousness, the aspiring soul pro- 
ceeds to the annihilation of the unreal by hurling himself volun- 
tarily through the wall of his prison into the embrace of the 
Law which is his Refuge and his End. 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 117 

Having thus considered, in diagrammatic fashion at least, 
the principle involved in the unfold ment of realization, let us 
view the subject from the standpoint of the philosopher. If 
asked to describe the sensations through which he passes as 
he projects his realization inward toward the Self, the Oriental 
mystic would reply that he first seats himself in the midst of 
the bustle and confusion of the world. Then, having estab- 
lished his physical body in the posture and state prescribed by 
the Law, he begins the conscious withdrawal of himself from 
his outer life. Gradually the turmoil around him ceases until 
the physical world seems to sink away into space, leaving him 
alone immersed in a quasi emptiness which is permeated, how- 
ever, by the sense of protection and well-being. 

In its ascent realization passes through various states or con- 
ditions where, if right-mindfulness is not employed, the mystic 
wanders off into a phantasmal world which the European 
magicians of the Middle Ages chose to call the sphere of the 
astral light. Here the sense of emptiness is no longer present, 
for space seems filled with strange and exotic perfumes, and 
the one in meditation beholds flowers falling from space upon 
him until he is literally buried beneath a mass of sweet-smelling 
blossoms. Over him then steals a bliss unalloyed and the com- 
pelling urge to drift off into the astral gardens which have thus 
suddenly materialized into being. As Eliphas Levi says, how- 
ever, the serpent of evil is entwined about each flower, and he 
who tarries here will never find the Real. But, resolute in his 
defiance of the phantasms thus conjured up by Mara, the real- 
ization of the mystic rises above all these through spheres of 
light and color, through planes where endless music peals as 
from a heavenly organ. At length all phenomena cease; light 
and darkness cease; the realization of the personal self ceases. 
Slowly over the entire being descends an absolute peace and the 
mystic is swept into infinite realization. At this point the sage 
will end his description, for here description fails. 

Realization is the power by which the great achievement 
is rendered possible. Realization, as previously stated, must not 
be confused with intellectual acquiescence in, or concept of an 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

idea. Realization is the measure of accomplishment. Realiza- 
tion is the product of right-thinking, right-feeling, and right- 
acting. Realization is not attainable except as the reaction of 
right-doing; only experience, renunciation, compassion, love, 
service, and ideality can build realization, and only realization 
is capable of elevating man through the various spheres of 
consciousness. Thus are definitely set forth the way, the means, 
and the end; but no man can take this path for another. 

Diversity is the paramount illusion. Only realization can 
overcome the concept of diversity. A great soul is obvious from 
his instinctive effort to synthesize the elements of life. Take, 
for example, the so-called body of knowledge. That which man 
believes he knows he has divided into a host of subdivisions, 
each of which is served by intellects naturally segregative and 
separative. The physicist, the biologist, and the anthropologist 
all live in worlds apart, each seeking with his own particular 
fragment of the body of knowledge to solve the riddle of it all. 
However, as consciousness reveals more and more of Reality to 
man, all these man made divisions disappear and the multitude 
of streamlets converge to form the three great rivers of science, 
philosophy, and religion. These, in turn, eventually empty 
into the one great ocean of Truth. Never will knowledge be 
possible, however, until we realize that each part is helpless 
without all the others; that all branches of learning are useless 
until merged in a single science representing the sun} of human 
thought, feeling, and belief. 

It is sad but true that with few exceptions what man thinks 
he knows actually stands between him and knowledge, for he 
who is rich in beliefs is usually a pauper in facts. The theorist 
is too involved in his own irrational complexities to recognize 
rational simplicity. Barring the individual from the path of 
attainment are not only the unrecognized absurdities of his own 
life, but also the cumulative prejudice, bigotry, and false em- 
phasis of generations. The theology of his fathers, the phi- 
losophy of his ancestors, and the stupendous scientific institu- 
tions of his contemporaries all tend to overawe the individual 
into acceptance of the unreal. The gods are so silent and man 

The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity 119 

so bombastic that ignorant mortals may well be excused if they 
regard the dogmatic utterances of man as more authoritative 
than the silence of the gods. Only after much experience with 
the pyrotechnics of discordant isms is the eloquence of divine 
silence discernible. The world is largely composed of people 
whose smugness is impervious— people who are orthodox in 
their orthodoxy and orthodox in their heterodoxy. With equal 
facility they defend both their plethora of beliefs and their 
paucity of them. Exhibiting the keenest pleasure, they conduct 
one through the many chambers of their minds, woefully un- 
aware that all this vast mental establishment represents a prison 
and not a palace. He who would tread the path that leads to 
light and liberation must first cast aside not physical possessions 
—which, at best, are but gew-gaws — but the so-called treasures 
of the mind, which are actually a hodgepodge of notions. 
Divorced from all bias and assumption, stripped of the gar- 
ments of pomp and ceremony, and exchanging the robes of 
self-satisfaction for the simple saffron garment of humility, 
the mendicant soul achieves by the Middle Road. His reliance 
is neither upon God nor man but upon the Law. In full real- 
ization that the Law of all things is ultimate perfection, the 
seeker after Reality takes his stand upon that eternal urge 
which moves all to this ennobled end. 



The fundamental motion of the One toward the Two and from their sum 
the triad is established. The triangle is the skeleton of the universe, the whole diversity 
of life being erected upon a threefold foundation. The complicated order of mani- 
festation may cause the uninformed to lose sight of the unchanging Three, which 
is indeed the God of the wise. 


The Disciplines of Salvation 

A SSUMING realization to be the product of definite philo- 
sophic disciplines, we now turn to a consideration of the 
sciences and procedures which are most valuable in the unfold- 
ment of the rational intellect and the directionalization of the 

conscious Knower. Initiated into the mysteries of contempla- 
tive philosophy by the Brahman initiates of Ellora and Ele- 
phanta, Pythagoras set forth three disciplines as essential to sal- 
vation through unity with Universal Cause. Supreme in his 
contemplative genius, Pythagoras differs from his Eastern 
mentors in that he conceived the universal state to be attained 

through elevation of the mind rather than annihilation of 
thought procedure. As the first step toward realization, he 
accordingly taught the training of the mind so as to make it 
capable of sustained logical activity. The misconception is quite 
general that a common school education equips the mind for 
the profession of living, and, if supplemented by university 
training the individual is thereby qualified to question and 
debate intelligently the dictums of eternity. Modem education, 
is not founded upon strict rational procedure; hence the mass 
of humanity is not educated but rather supports its notions by 
the vain mumblings of archaic dogma. Unless first subjected 
to definite disciplines, the mind is incapable of rational func- 
tioning. There are few, alas, who, like the young Dalai Lama 
of Tibet, are able to rise in their cribs on their natal day and 
recite the Sutras in a convincing manner I If a man should ap- 
proach us and say, “I am a human being and a biologist simply 
because I am a born biologist,” we would consider him ridicul- 
ous, knowing that many years of definite application must be 
spent in equipping the reason to cope with the issues of biology. 
Yet if someone else equally lacking in fitness comes along and 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

says, “I am free, white, and twenty one; my thoughts, conse- 
quently, are as good and my conclusions concerning life as 
sound as those of any other man,” we would smile benignly 
and exclaim, “Ah, vive la democratie!” 

Since few people regard thinking as an exact science, an 
intellect such as Socrates’ could in a few moments literally rip 
to shreds the entire fabric of human notions. To learn to think 
intelligently requires more time and effort than any other 
profession known to man, and is only to be realized through 
the most exacting disciplines. Most wordly-wise men are in 
the same position as the young patrician, Alcibiades, who be- 
cause he wrestled well and played the lyre not too badly con- 
sidered himself qualified to sit in the Athenian Senate. But 
all are not fortunate enough to have Socrates, the plebeian, 
barking at their heels, continually reminding them in no un- 
certain terms that not on a single count could they qualify. 
With the same delightful inconsistency characteristic of human 
procedure, when Socrates revealed to the Athenians their ig- 
norance they corrected the condition by poisoning the man 
who had the audacity to confront them with it. 

Pythagoras invariably demanded of his disciples a familiarity 
with the principles of three sciences: mathematics, music, and 
astronomy. These sciences are today capable of filling the same 
ends which they served in ancient days, for they not only re- 
veal to those familiar with their principles certain cosmic verities, 
but also instill the principles of order, rationality, and compara- 
tive values. The curse of the twentieth century is the super- 
ficiality of its thought and the resultant insufficiency of the 
foundation upon which the structure of life is erected. What 
does it mean to become proficient in mathematics, music, and 
astronomy? Remember, we do not refer to the utilitarian 
aspect of these sciences which too frequently realizes its ideal in 
the creation of the bookkeeper, the jazz pianist, and the elderly 
prognosticator who determines the annual precipitation from 
observation of the size of the sun-spots. 

Those who approach life with the Oriental attitude— name- 
ly, that matter is a vast sea of illusion — may rightly question 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


the advisability of devoting years to the mastery of sciences 
wholly concerned with the substances of the illusion. Such in- 
dividuals, however, must learn to regard a certain rational grasp 
of the tangible as prerequisite to a conception of the intangible. 
It is not what man actually learns that is of value to him, but 
rather the mental and spiritual activities within his own nature 
that necessarily precede and follow learning. Like the carpen- 
ter building a chair, the accomplishment is not the production 
of the chair but the ability to build chairs. Thus thought in 
itself should not be regarded as an accomplishment or neces- 
sarily valuable, for only the ability to think represents a definite 
degree of unfoldment within the nature of the thinker himself. 

When the student realizes that the entire fabric of creation 
is permeated by certain exact elements and principles, he un- 
consciously begins to figure and think in terms of exactness. 
The philosophy of salvation is nothing if not exact. According 
to both Pythagoras and Plato, mathematics is the father of the 
sciences — the first and greatest of the mystical disciplines of 
exactness. Without mathematics as a foundation, nothing can 
endure; upon its exactitude is raised the entire structure of 
order and sequence. All other arts and sciences are dependen- 
cies of mathematics, for into each enters the element of pre- 
cision that manifests the unchangeable nature of number. 

Referring to our fundamental symbolic triad, mathematics 
is the dot, music the line, and astronomy the circle. The mys- 
teries of the invisible causal sphere are to be approached by the 
principles of mathematics; the mysteries of the intermediate 
sphere are revealed by the profundities of aesthetics and har- 
monics; the mysteries of the inferior sphere are disclosed 
by the study of astronomy. Thus these sciences are the first 
triad of knowing and he who masters them is equipped to face 
the universe with a definite assurance that he is part of a 
scheme whose principles are inflexible, whose agencies are beau- 
tiful, and whose results are exact. 

Many people with whom we have discussed these Pythagoric 
disciplines complain that life is so short and its problems so 
numerous that time does not permit the mastery of such com- 

124 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

plicated studies. The inconsistency of such an attitude is pri- 
marily one of wrong emphasis. He who does not start because 
he fears he will not live to finish will never live to start. 
A certain friend approaching his eightieth year is on the verge 
of commencing the study of Spanish because he feels that it 
will be an important language during his next incarnation. 
An individual with such an attitude has surmounted a great 
obstacle. Too many live in the past and as the years roll by 
consider the future as an ever-diminishing quantity. The real- 
ization of infinite futurity is indispensable to accomplishment, 
but it is useless unless accompanied by a definite impulse to 
make now the starting-point of achievement. 

Pythagoras was well aware that inconstancy and inconsis- 
tency render valueless the greater part of human rumination,— 
hence he regarded the quality of exactness as essential to true 
mental functioning. He knew that a mind trained to recognize 
but one right answer to any problem in mathematics would 
likewise recognize that there is but one right solution to any 
problem in life. Yet Pythagoras was not fundamentally a 
mathematician; he was a philosopher, but mathematics was 
the first and sharpest of his tools. Mathematics is the supreme 
discipline in the science of knowing. More mystics have come 
into an understanding of the unseen side of life and realized 
the unfoldment of their inner perceptions through mathematics 
than through any other science known to man. 

Mathematics is the Pythagorean symbol of what the Bud- 
dhist terms the Law — the procedure of Being. Through num- 
bers the intricate mechanism of divine will is disclosed, for 
nothing else reveals so patently the exactness of cosmic method 
and the immutability of cosmic ends. The vast field of mani- 
festation is shown to be an orderly chain of emanations issuing 
from the incomprehensibility of First Cause, and after passing 
through definite phases of change returning to that from which 
they were temporarily separated. Through mathematics a hypo- 
thetical framework is established by means of which the natures 
of all manifestations are analyzed and the modes of their direc- 
tionalization determined. He who understands mathematics 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


can never conceive of himself as existing in an unorganized 
universe nor regard himself as an exception to the immutable 
laws of Being. Thus is established the realization of participa- 
tion in all the activities of Cosmos, and the glory of the whole 
is augmented as mathematics unveils the magnificence of the 
Eternal Plan. 

In music the Real and the ideal are blended. The mathe- 
matical basis upon which the science of harmonics is founded 
insures preservation of the principle of exactness. At the same 
time music stimulates lofty emotional reactions and thus amel- 
iorates the austerity of numbers. While mathematics empha- 
sizes the exactness of Deity, music reveals the moods of the 
Causal Nature. Like a flowering vine twining itself about 
the harsher outlines of mathematical procedure, music softens 
and beautifies the angles of cosmic discipline. Many dream of 
the beauty of things as they could be, but only the philosopher 
can recognize the beauty of things as they are. To such as are 
able to lift themselves above the personal concerns of life, 
the concord of the All is apparent. 

When Pythagoras taught that men should depend not upon 
their ears but upon mathematics for the determination of har- 
mony, he emphasized a subtle verity: namely, that the exactness 
of divine procedure is the absolute standard of harmony, and 
the order of universal flow is the perfect pattern of all rhythm. 
These are also the salient points of the philosophy of Taoism, 
and the ascetics of every age have striven to unite their own 
lesser natures with the harmonic procedures of divinity. 
Worlds, like atoms, are in a state of ceaseless vibration, and 
this vibration shared by all manifestations is the mysterious 
dance of life. From the inner nature the study of music causes 
to issue forth a love for life in all its diversity. While math- 
ematics inspires awe for the immutability of divine juris- 
prudence, music reveals the all-knowing Lawmaker as temper- 
ing justice with mercy. 

Astronomy strangely supplements both mathematics and 
music, and in turn is completed by them. The author of the 
Merchant of Venice causes one of his players to say: 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

There’s not the smallest orb which thou beholdst, 

But in his motion like an angel sings, 

Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubims. 

By the science of astronomy the magnitude of Reality is 
established, for if the unreal stretches from time to timelessness, 
how much greater must that perfection be of which creation 
is the inferior past? Gazing out into the infinite from the 
anthill he calls the earth, man comes to realize the insignifi- 
cance of his personality; but as the eyes of his inner reason open 
he beholds the Reality within through the transcendency of 
which he is made to partake of the glory of both the manifested 
and the unmanifested. 

In an effort to catch a possible glimpse of any stray gods 
who might be prowling about the fringe of creation, astron- 
omers are fashioning ever larger and more efficient equipment 
with which to scan the heavens. A new telescope is now under 
construction by which stars of the twenty-fifth magnitude will 
be brought within the range of human vision. Thus, of all 
forms of human learning none possesses the power of astron- 
omy to impress the individual with the realization of cosmic 
magnitudes. The contribution of astronomy to the attitude of 
toleration is incalculable; for from the time when Giordano 
Bruno gave his life that the heavens might be saved for astron- 
omers, the insufficient god of theology was doomed. Equipped 
with the realization awakened by contemplation of the pro- 
fundities of mathematics, music, and astronomy, thp candidate 
after spiritual understanding may fearlessly knock at the portals 
of the House of Wisdom and demand admission to the hidden 
house of the Mysteries. 

To those just beginning to awaken to the immensities of 
life, philosophy is a very hard religion. At first philosophy 
seems to be faith without sentiment, for it is not concerned 
with emotion in the ordinary acceptance of the term. Having 
no time for the petty interests which constitute the life of the 
average individual, philosophy, because of its concern over in- 
finities and ultimates, seems distant and austere. Most indi- 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


viduals live in a universe of trivialities, spending their entire 
appointed span in the struggle for worthless trinkets. Such 
naturally desire and create a God concerned with trivialities, 
for their Deity is presumed to be interested in the effect of 
early frosts upon the crops or the probability of the leghorns 
escaping the roup; He must also be invoked at conferences and 
haled willy-nilly into court to act as sponsor for the integrity 
of those who testify. On Sunday he is likewise obligated to be 
in attendance at all the churches, not to mention the Wednes- 
day evening prayer-meeting. 

When philosophy attempts to dissipate this puerile concep- 
tion of the Causal Agent, a great hue and cry goes up and those 
who never had a God other than themselves, cry out, “You 
have destroyed our faith; you have blasphemed our Creator 
and you strive to take away our God!’* To such mediocre minds 
philosophy is assuredly a monster who demands a degree of 
intelligence requisite for attainment which would require time 
and application far beyond their willingness to sacrifice for such 
an end. In reality, however, philosophy has a heart greater 
than all the hearts of the world, and it is most loving and 
most kind because it is most just. Philosophy, like a wise 
parent, occasionally finds it necessary to chastize its children, 
not in anger but in the realization that man himself has no 
enemy like his own uncorrected vice. The truly great philos- 
ophers have been men and women whose hearts overflowed 
with love and understanding; but also they have been strong, 
and their strength lay in their recognition of that which was 
necessary for the good of all. 

Out of philosophy is born the camaraderie of the spirit. 
Philosophy does not grind the masses down to a state of bond- 
age in order that it may elevate a few. On the contrary, 
philosophy is a mental democracy. Thought is not turned 
to the disqualification of one another, but directed by all to the 
common end of wisdom. The humanity of today opposes the 
mind that generalizes, for we live in an age of specialization. 
The fact that philosophers think in terms of cosmic immensity 
causes the conservative intellect to view them askance. While 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

minds of small caliber arc concerned with the issues of ward 
politics, the philosopher contemplates that camaraderie which 
he has discovered among the sparks of infinite Being that fill 
the endless vista of beginnings and ends. The philosopher is a 
wanderer through the fields of space; to him the earth is a tiny 
oasis in a vast wilderness. Two or three palm trees, a little 
fountain, and a winding road— these constitute the caravanscry 
where he rests between his daily journeys. 

To people who are selfish; who seek prestige and demand 
attention; who are superior to others; who feel that in their 
veins courses a noble blood; who believe that when God 
molded them he breathed upon them twice while upon less 
fortunate mortals he breathed but once— to these and all other 
varieties of hypocrites philosophy is not pleasing, for it is the 
creed of honest men and can never come into its own until 
there are honest men. 

Philosophy stands for something infinitely superior to phys- 
ical honesty; something far more difficult of attainment: it 
stands for mental honesty. It is the fellowship of those who 
understand; a brotherhood of as many orders as there are de- 
grees of understanding. It is strange that in modern times 
those who espouse philosophy are prone to grow either unfeel- 
ing or eccentric. They are inclined to become mentally lazy. 
Trusting themselves to the laws of which they have but an 
insufficient concept, they cease that individual struggle which, 
after all, is the only measure of true greatness. They have not 
discovered that while law governs the universe, love is its 
administrator in the hearts of men. Hence, the knowledge of 
law is not sufficient. To such knowledge must be added the 
realization that we are the administrators of that which we 
know, and that within ourselves we have the privilege of tem- 
pering the blast of eternal glory so that the shorn lamb may 
not be destroyed thereby. 

Observation, discrimination, and concentration are prerequi- 
sites of knowing. It is first necessary to observe the infinite 
diversity of phenomenal being; then to discriminate between 
that which is primary in importance and that which is secon- 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


dary. Having determined that which is most worthy of con- 
sideration, it is then necessary to concentrate the attention upon 
the task of discovering the recondite truths therein contained. 
When these three faculties arc properly combined they result 
in a very high degree of rational penetration. Only such in- 
dividuals as have learned to observe, discriminate, and concen- 
trate arc qualified to occupy executive positions in any walk 
of life. If, for example, these faculties had been possessed to 
even a reasonable degree by the early translators and editors 
of the Bible, what a different aspect would be taken on by the 
Scriptures; for instead of words, words, words, the spirit of 
Holy Writ would have been preserved. 

In what particular does observation differ from seeing? We 
prefer to think of observation as the perfection of seeing, and 
the perfection of seeing is not the mere beholding of an object 
but rather the instant discernment of its inner constitution. 
Observation is not the mere seeing of things but rather the 
ability to see through things, making transparent, as it were, 
their outer nature so that the causal agencies precipitating them 
may be estimated. Observation, therefore, not only envisages 
the inherent nature of an object but also its relationship to that 
which precedes it as cause and follows it as consequence. 
Readers of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are familiar 
with the fascinating deductions of Sherlock Holmes which 
he was forced to explain in all their detail to the ever bewil- 
dered Dr. Watson. Into the mouth of Sherlock Holmes his 
creator puts an excellent description of the powers of observa- 
tion, for it is true that a man’s shoes, the manner in which 
he holds his hands, his air and carriage all reveal to the trained 
observer the characteristics of the inner nature which must 
manifest through these physical peculiarities. The range of 
human vision is able to take in a comparatively immense area 
of manifestation, and yet comparatively little of that which is 
seen is recorded in such a way that it can be evoked by the 
reasoning processes. Only when the consciousness itself is 
focused upon the organs of sight is their record preserved. 
We arc most likely to behold and preserve the memory of that 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

which is related to some major interest of life. Thus, a plumber 
will instinctively turn his attention to water pipes, while the 
artist will scrutinize the lower corner of the canvas for the 
painter’s signature. 

In great measure, therefore, observation is directionalized by 
interest, for man sees first that which interests him. Only 
after ages of mental unfoldment does man learn that in the 
last analysis all things are of equal interest. Interest is generally 
unjust in that it focuses the attention upon some fractional part 
before the panorama of the whole has been taken into consider- 
ation. At this point the problem of philosophic indifference 
should be considered. The philosopher is indifferent not in 
the sense that he ignores or refuses to concern himself with 
the diversity of being, but rather that he refuses to become biased 
by directionalizing his interest primarily upon any single phase 
of life to the exclusion of the remainder. 

We study observation first because of its generalizing effect. 
If particularity precedes generality, the result will be mental 
intolerance and injustice. If however, specialization follows 
generalization, then the mind-familiar with all — may justly 
choose one phase of existence and develop it with rationality. 
But when the individual, having first conceived generality and 
estimated its profundity, chooses to continue dealing with and 
thinking in terms of generality, he truly remains a philosopher. 

In his introduction to An Essay on the Beautiful by Plotinus, 
Thomas Taylor writes: “But surely the energies of intellect 
are more worthy our concern than the operation of sense; and 
the science of universal, permanent and fixed, must be superior 
to the knowledge of particulars, fleeting and frail. Where is a 
sensible object to be found which abides for a moment the 
same; which is not either rising to perfection, or verging to 
decay; which is not mixed and confused with its contrary; 
whose flowing nature no resistance can stop, or any art confine? 
• • * Since then there is no portion of matter which may not 
be the subject of experiments without end, let us betake our- 
selves to the regions of mind, where all things are bounded in 
intellectual measure; where every thing is permanent and beau- 

The Disciplines op Salvation 


tiful, eternal and divine. Let us quit the study of particulars 
for that which is general and comprehensive, and through 
this learn to see and recognize whatever exists.” 

Observation may be considered as the process of seeing with 
the mind rather than with the eye. It involves an analysis of 
the object beheld and the effort to sense or conceive its intrinsic 
nature. The end of observation is the ability to cognize the 
life behind the form, the fact behind the fancy, the truth 
behind the symbol, and the Self behind the not-self. Through 
observation one is able to discover wisdom in the words of 
fools and foolishness in the words of most wise men. Observa- 
tion, furthermore, is the ability to comprehend the pervading 
wholeness. He who secs may see the parts, but he who ob- 
serves closely may glimpse the divine cement that binds the 
fractions together. We live in a world of men who see in part 
and are seen in part; who think in part, hope in part, fear in 
part. The universe is regarded as fragmentary or partitive be- 
cause we lack the faculty of seeing the wholeness of things. 
Observation is that transcendent faculty which is able to grasp 
the wholeness of things in its span of comprehension, whereas 
ordinary sight is simply the ability to analyze the fragments. 
Thus sight differs from observation as widely as analysis differs 
from synthesis. 

The inherent danger of observation is that when the man of 
ordinary vision begins to observe the vastness surrounding him 
and to realize that even the most minute particle of that vast- 
ness is itself immeasurably great, bewilderment ensues. There 
is an overwhelming sense of inadequacy to cope with the enor- 
mousness of the scheme. Then it is that the faculty of discrim- 
ination comes to the rescue, emphasizing the fact that if man 
is not capable of knowing all now he must compromise by 
devoting himself to a consideration of only the best. We all 
realize that in one short span of physical life we cannot do 
everything, we cannot know everything, we cannot have every- 
thing, we cannot be everything — the major part of accomplish- 
ment must be left in the keeping of futurity. So, contemplat- 
ing the heterogeneous mass of phenomena, the rational soul 

132 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

establishes itself upon the surface of phenomena and directs its 
attention to the specific task of choosing from all that which 
is next and most necessary to the unfoldment of the faculty 
of realization. 

He who possesses discrimination is master of the science of 
values. Discrimination is the value sense; It is the ability to 
look upon a number of objects apparently equally important, 
and instantly, instinctively, unerringly recognize that which is 
chief among them. Recognizing the whole to be of paramount 
value, it is then necessary to determine the nature of those parts 
which contribute most to the whole, or that part of the tangible 
proximate to the intangible. 

According to the Greek philosophers discrimination is that 
faculty which organizes things into their value sequence, plac- 
ing that which is primary first, that which is secondary second, 
and so on ad infinitum . Discrimination is one of the most 
valued possessions of the inferior man, for it enables him to 
conserve energy and thus evade the illusions of time, distance, 
and quality that he himself has established. Discrimination 
reveals to man that he has what he saves and loses what he 
wastes in the realm of the physical. By concentrating the en- 
ergy upon that which is primary, and hence superior, discrimi- 
nation results in the proper conservation of life. The length 
of life is not to be estimated by the number of years that we 
plow blindly through the mire of matter. Not time but ac- 
complishment is the true measure of existence. The attain- 
ment of true wisdom in all its phases — spiritual, aesthetic, and 
ethical— is the supreme accomplishment. By directionalizing 
all the energies upon these more important matters, discrimina- 
tion liberates the mind from the hopeless drudgery of the 

There arc three forms of discrimination. The first has for 
its goal the discovery of that part of visible and sensible things 
which is primary. It is limited to the form sphere and deals 
with the problems of multitude and magnitude. For example, 
in the human body this form of discrimination determines the 
heart to be the chief part of the body. The second form of 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


discrimination is that concerned with the relative integrity or 
excellence of innate characteristics. It is limited to the com- 
parison of mental and moral excellences. This type of dis- 
crimination would elevate the idealist above the realist, the 
generous above the penurious, the unselfish above the selfish, 
the beautiful above the so-called practical; for it conceives the 
greatest good to occupy always the highest place. The third 
and highest form of discrimination is the power to differentiate 
between permanence and impermanence, Reality and unreality. 
It is limited to an estimation of the degrees of spiritual per- 
manence. Through this type of discrimination is established 
the philosophic fact that the spiritual, or invisible man is the 
real man. Only the one in whom the faculty of discrimination 
is highly evolved is brave enough to elevate to the position of 
first importance and greatest solidarity that which to most men 
is an intangible mystery. 

Discrimination is essential to success in every department of 
life— spiritual, mental, and physical. Men and women in the 
physical world must choose means and methods of solving 
the problems of livelihood, and through the use of right dis- 
crimination the material activities can be chosen so as to pro- 
duce definite benefit in the superphysical nature. Discrimina- 
tion differentiates between people and what they do; between 
the thinker and his thought; between the spirit and its body; 
between the innate Divinity within and the objective material- 
ity without. Discrimination gradually elevates the conscious- 
ness of the individual until it is prone to seek out the good 
as that which is most worth-while. The height of discrimina- 
tion is the recognition of the best. Evil is recognized as the 
least degree of good; matter, the least degree of spirit; the not- 
self (which is the personality), the least degree of the real 
Self (which is the principle). 

Discrimination has for its arch-enemy human selfishness. 
Because of its innate dishonesty, humanity deprives itself of the 
right to know good and evil. Justice is symbolized as blind- 
folded so that its personal attitudes may not influence its deci- 
sions. If discrimination is to be of value, it must also be ap- 

134 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

plied with a strictly impersonal attitude; for the instant the 
mind is personally involved in its problem, the sense of true 
perspective and relationship is lost. Most people sit in one end 
of the scales when they weigh a problem. We are prone to 
live not according to our knowledge of right and wrong but 
according to our prejudices and whims. Things have an un- 
pleasant way of looking not as they actually are but as we want 
them to, all because we cannot divorce the personal equation 
from our problem. Thus we make the decision fit our own 
desire and try to resolve the universe into a facsimile of our 
own notions. Many people who would scorn to be dishonest 
in the physical sense are dishonest mentally. The one who 
possesses true discrimination realizes only too well that he can 
never be just while he is personally involved in the question 
on which he must pass judgment. 

A slight digression may not be out of order for the purpose 
of considering two terms which modern psychology has popu- 
larized: namely, the inferiority and superiority complexes. In 
reality, these two types are each twofold in character. The 
inferiority-inferiority complex is that mental attitude which 
causes the individual to picture himself as a groveling, squirm- 
ing worm of the dust, predestined to be blind, to live in dark- 
ness, and eternally to be trodden under foot. This attitude 
paralyzes initiative and is a never-ending blasphemy against 
the Divinity innate in every creature. 

The inferiority-superiority complex is the index of the hope- 
less egotist. Its victims have full confidence in their own in- 
tegrity and excellence and in every act evince the realization of 
their self-importance. They make themselves heartily ob- 
noxious, however, by assuming airs of modesty and inferiority 
in order to adduce evidence that they are not what they know 
they are. They have heard that great people are invariably 
distinguished by their modesty, — hence their assumption of the 

The superiority-superiority complex manifests itself as bound- 
less self-assurance. Such an individual, like the character of 
the story book, “can achieve the impossible, do the un-do-able, 

The Disciplines op Salvation 


and unscrew the inscrutable!” The pages of history teem with 
the exploits of these colossal egotists who, however, backed their 
egotism up with achievement. Such achievements, though, are 
almost invariably of a temporal nature. Several philosophers 
also exhibited this moral obliquity, but arc remembered chiefly 
for more worthy accomplishments. 

The superiority-inferiority complex is usually borne by an 
individual who is an inveterate but unconscious liar. Such a 
person gives an external exhibition of consummate nerve while 
internally recognizing himself unable to cope with the situation. 
In other words, he is the high-pressure bluffer, the “personality 
plus” product of modern pseudo-psychology. If it were possible 
for such a person to be honest with himself but for a single 
instant, his courage would ooze out like a cold sweat and leave 
him a moral bankrupt. 

Discrimination is not only the ability to choose wisely from 
the mass of mental and physical phenomena around us, but is 
also the ability to analyze the elements of our own thinking, 
feeling, and acting for the purpose of unfolding that which 
is good and eliminating that which is unnecessary. A very 
good way to approach this particular problem is to make an 
inventory of our assets and liabilities— mental, emotional, and 
physical. While so engaged we might choose as our motto: 
What is man that the Lord should be mindful of him? What 
do we know that our opinions should be of vast pith and mo- 
ment? By what right do we sit in judgment upon the world 
and its Maker? During such self-examination we are lost with- 
out honesty or, more correctly, integrity. It is well that we 
differentiate between honesty and integrity. Honesty gives 
sixteen ounces to the pound because of law, while integrity 
gives sixteen ounces to the pound because sixteen ounces make 
a pound. 

Having decided to judge yourself with absolute integrity, 
make a list of the virtues you possess, together with the degree 
of their opposites which manifest in your nature. If you are 
kind, to what degree are you unkind? If you are generous, 
to what degree are you penurious? If you are just, to what 

136 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

degree are you unjust? Perfections are determined by the de- 
gree of imperfections. Thus truthfulness is determined by the 
degree of untruthfulness. This is doubtless the reason one is 
so prone to see faults in others, for faults are the basis upon 
which the degree of faultlessness is to be estimated. Possibly 
for the same reason few people are congratulated for their 
virtues with either the fervor or the frequency that they are 
criticized for their vices. Having arrived at a reasonable esti- 
mate of the proportions of ignorance intervening between your 
present state and the desired state, next list the arts, sciences, 
and crafts with whose principles you have some degree of fam- 
iliarity. Then ask yourself what is the percentage of your 
understanding of them as compared to that which is knowable 
concerning them. Discrimination will assist you to judge 
accurately the relation occupied by what you know to that 
which can be known. It logically follows also that your capac- 
ity to understand is measured by that which you understand, 
and by the understanding with which you understand you arc 
most likely to be understood. 

Since it reveals man’s incompleteness, discrimination is there- 
fore a continual urge toward completion. Man is not perfect 
until he knows all and is united in consciousness with all. 
Until this state is reached there can be no cessation of activity 
without disaster. We all have mental faculties that are weak; 
sense perceptions uncertain in the quality of their acuteness. 
Discrimination assists us to develop rationality by balancing 
the faculties until all the parts involved in the process of 
knowing are equilibrated. The result is a balanced and ra- 
tional attitude toward the various conditions of life. Discrimi- 
nation inspires tolerance in that it reveals the relationship which 
man as a spiritual condition bears to the body which he oc- 
cupies. Discrimination proves that while the spirit is willing, 
the flesh is weak. Criticism should therefore be directed against 
these inconsistencies existing in the relationship of the parts. 
In this way the sting of personality is removed. 

The spirit of man is ever composing beautiful melodies, but 
by the time they reach physical expression they are mostly 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


reduced to discords. Such was the dilemma of the young man 
learning to play the cornet, who, turning to his teacher, ex- 
claimed: “Why is it that when I blow the music in it is so sweet, 
but when it comes out it is so sour?” Discrimination helps 
man to recognize the melodies of the spirit and ignore the in- 
harmonies of the flesh. Hence, discrimination is a forgiving 
faculty, not in the general acceptation of the word but in the 
sense of understanding; for the moment we fully understand 
people we have forgiven them. 

Spirit is intrinsically beautiful, and those who raise their 
consciousness to the recognition of universal life dwell in the 
sense of beauty. Discrimination reveals the beautiful in that 
it chooses to gaze upon the face of Reality and to ignore the 
seething ocean of illusion. The realization of Self is synony- 
mous with the recognition of Divinity, and he who beholds 
with his inner perception the radiant face of the One has 
reached the vanishing point of enmity and animosity. Dis- 
crimination also dispels the illusion of relationships. Relation- 
ship is a man made concept of proximities; it is an effort to 
give expression to the interval — mental or physical— by which 
things are separated, for relationship is not estimated by the 
proximity of one part to another but rather by the distance 
one part is away from another. Through believing that by 
the concept of relationship he unites life, man’s efforts in this 
respect all too often contain only the sense of increasing separ- 
ateness; for when we take that which is already synonymous 
with ourselves and relate it to ourselves we are really dividing 
it from ourselves. 

Discrimination finally reveals to us that relationships are illu- 
sions of the mortal mind and that since all things are one in 
essence they are consequently indivisible and incapable of exist- 
ing in any relationship of proximity one to the other. Even 
the ideal of friendship, though the loftiest of man’s illusional 
attitudes, is thus revealed as insufficient. But even as wisdom is 
merely the vanishing point of ignorance, so illusion exists in a 
state of orderly concatenation, with friendship as the last, and 
consequendy the least degree of the illusion of relationship. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Having through discrimination attained to a state of right- 
mindfulness, it is necessary to maintain such state and project 
it to perfection through the aid of concentration. Having dis- 
covered the purpose of life through observation and discrimina- 
tion, man consummates that purpose through concentration of 
his faculties upon that single end. To concentrate means simply 
to focalize all the energies upon an appointed task. The mental 
activities of most people are scattered like spray when they are 
confronted by the solid wall of that which is to be known. 
Individuals read books while their minds are concerned with 
other interests. When the intellect is laden with responsibili- 
ties which it cannot cast off, it ceases to function with the 
acuteness necessary for philosophic perception. The true 
thinker realizes that his mind is capable of fatigue, and while 
this fatigue may not be apparent in the grosser activities it 
precludes the possibility of exactness in fine thinking. The 
normal mind works on the union basis of an eight-hour day 
with time and a half of? for over-time. For every period of 
intense effort the mind must he compensated by a similar 
period of relaxation. The immature intellect of the average 
person must work slowly and orderly if it is to accomplish, for 
only a genius such as Julius Caesar can do a dozen things at 
once with any degree of success. 

It may truthfully be said that half an hour of profound 
mental activity is a day’s work for the mind and he who ac- 
complishes this is entitled to be termed industrious in things of 
the intellect. We presume ourselves to be mentally active dur- 
ing the entire period of wakefulness, but in reality we wander 
in a sort of mental delirium in which the elements of concep- 
tion and reflection tumble over each other in hopeless disorder. 
Only when confronted by some actual crisis does the mind rise 
to organized activity, and after the crisis is past the resultant 
mental exhaustion is far greater than the average person real- 
izes. About fifteen minutes of unremitting mental concentra- 
tion will exhaust the ordinary man. Only by special training 
can the intellectual faculties be elevated to the stage of pro- 
longed, orderly functioning. As exercise scientifically chosen 
will strengthen an otherwise deficient physical member, so 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


definite and proper mental exercise will increase mental capac- 
ity. In the field of mental culture the Greeks enjoyed a 
supremacy never approached by any other race. They built 
gymnasiums not only for the culture of the body but also for 
the mind, the result being their overwhelming superiority in 
the realm of creative thought. 

In its philosophic aspect concentration implies that all the 
life activities are centered upon the noblest goal and held in 
this state of fixation until the goal is achieved. Consecration of 
life to definite purpose is indispensable to accomplishment. 
Philosophy assures its disciples that when man, through dis- 
crimination, has discovered the desired end and is willing to 
sacrifice every other interest to the attainment of that end, he 
will ultimately arrive at indissoluble union with the object of 
his desire. This is, of course, a superphysical truth. If a man 
devotes a lifetime of effort to amassing a million dollars, he 
will not ultimately take upon himself the actual appearance of 
money. He will, however, gradually deteriorate until his life 
is susceptible of complete expression in terms of money. 
Through concentration the life energies are co-ordinated upon 
the path of achievement, and success is in direct proportion to 
the power or degree of concentration. As the sun’s rays con- 
centrated by a burning glass are able to generate a high degree 
of heat, so man’s mental and physical energies when properly 
focussed give expression to potencies never dreamed of. 

In order to find the solitude considered essential to con- 
centration, the hermits of old retired from the world of men 
and immured themselves in the depth of the forest or in caves 
high upon the mountain side. Surrounded by the tranquillity 
of Nature they dreamed their lives away, finding in their soli- 
tary retirement a certain measure of peace. Of course, such 
an environment made the act of concentration comparatively 
easy, but for the same reason also made its efficacy less potent. 
By thus isolating himself from the social body — though never 
able to sever the physical bonds which still related him to it 
the ascetic sought to approach Divinity by retiring from a 
world which he mistakenly assumed to be the antipode of Deity. 

138 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Having through discrimination attained to a state of right- 
mindfulness, it is necessary to maintain such state and project 
it to perfection through the aid of concentration. Having dis- 
covered the purpose of life through observation and discrimina- 
tion, man consummates that purpose through concentration of 
his faculties upon that single end. To concentrate means simply 
to focalize all the energies upon an appointed task. The mental 
activities of most people are scattered like spray when they are 
confronted by the solid wall of that which is to be known. 
Individuals read books while their minds are concerned with 
other interests. When the intellect is laden with responsibili- 
ties which it cannot cast off, it ceases to function with the 
acuteness necessary for philosophic perception. The true 
thinker realizes that his mind is capable of fatigue, and while 
this fatigue may not be apparent in the grosser activities it 
precludes the possibility of exactness in fine thinking. The 
normal mind works on the union basis of an eight-hour day 
with time and a half off for over-time. For every period of 
intense effort the mind must be compensated by a similar 
period of relaxation. The immature intellect of the average 
person must work slowly and orderly if it is to accomplish, for 
only a genius such as Julius Caesar can do a dozen things at 
once with any degree of success. 

It may truthfully be said that half an hour of profound 
mental activity is a day’s work for the mind and he who ac- 
complishes this is entitled to be termed industrious in things of 
the intellect. We presume ourselves to be mentally active dur- 
ing the entire period of wakefulness, but in reality we wander 
in a sort of mental delirium in which the elements of concep- 
tion and reflection tumble over each other in hopeless disorder. 
Only when confronted by some actual crisis does the mind rise 
to organized activity, and after the crisis is past the resultant 
mental exhaustion is far greater than the average person real- 
izes. About fifteen minutes of unremitting mental concentra- 
tion will exhaust the ordinary man. Only by special training 
can the intellectual faculties be elevated to the stage of pro- 
longed, orderly functioning. As exercise scientifically chosen 
will strengthen an otherwise deficient physical member, so 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


definite and proper mental exercise will increase mental capac- 
ity. In the field of mental culture the Greeks enjoyed a 
supremacy never approached by any other race. They built 
gymnasiums not only for the culture of the body but also for 
the mind, the result being their overwhelming superiority in 
the realm of creative thought. 

In its philosophic aspect concentration implies that all the 
life activities are centered upon the noblest goal and held in 
this state of fixation until the goal is achieved. Consecration of 
life to definite purpose is indispensable to accomplishment. 
Philosophy assures its disciples that when man, through dis- 
crimination, has discovered the desired end and is willing to 
sacrifice every other interest to the attainment of that end, he 
will ultimately arrive at indissoluble union with the object of 
his desire. This is, of course, a superphysical truth. If a man 
devotes a lifetime of effort to amassing a million dollars, he 
will not ultimately take upon himself the actual appearance of 
money. He will, however, gradually deteriorate until his life 
is susceptible of complete expression in terms of money. 
Through concentration the life energies are co-ordinated upon 
the path of achievement, and success is in direct proportion to 
the power or degree of concentration. As the sun’s rays con- 
centrated by a burning glass are able to generate a high degree 
of heat, so man’s mental and physical energies when properly 
focussed give expression to potencies never dreamed of. 

In order to find the solitude considered essential to con- 
centration, the hermits of old retired from the world of men 
and immured themselves in the depth of the forest or in caves 
high upon the mountain side. Surrounded by the tranquillity 
of Nature they dreamed their lives away, finding in their soli- 
tary retirement a certain measure of peace. Of course, such 
an environment made the act of concentration comparatively 
easy, but for the same reason also made its efficacy less potent. 
By thus isolating himself from the social body— though never 
able to sever the physical bonds which still related him to it — 
the ascetic sought to approach Divinity by retiring from a 
world which he mistakenly assumed to be the antipode of Deity. 

140 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

He overlooked the obvious fact that he who finds not God 
among men will find him nowhere else. 

Rabindranath Tagore once expressed his aversion for the 
life of the ascetic by declaring that without love and companion- 
ship the path of perfection was not worth walking at all. 
Concentration is not necessarily promoted by isolation; in fact, 
the acid test of concentration is to be found in the environment 
of confusion. If the mind can be deflected from its goal by the 
phantasm of surroundings, it is incapable of concentration; for 
when concentration is perfected all the faculties are united in 
the performance of a definite task and no sense perceptions arc 
left unoccupied with which to register external impressions. 

While concentration seems a herculean effort to the mind 
that has not learned to co-ordinate its own parts, it is accom- 
plished without effort by the trained thinker; in fact, many 
possess the faculty without the slightest knowledge of its 
existence. The musician lost in some rhapsody, the artist spell- 
bound before his unfolding creation, the philosopher oblivious 
to the world as he ponders the immensity of space, the tra- 
gedian buried in his part, the financier frenziedly watching 
the blackboard of the stock exchange — all these not only exem- 
plify the power of concentration but also its application to 
various ends, worthy or unworthy, according to die clarity of 
discrimination present. 

Regardless, however, of the factor of worthiness, wherever 
we find true concentration we find excellence. The faculty of 
concentration also manifests through continuity, the least de- 
veloped faculty of the American people. Continuity means the 
sequential unfoldment of a project from germinal beginning 
to final consummation, or the resolution not to relinquish the 
task until it is completed. This faculty is frequently lacking in 
children and seriously interferes with their efficiency in later 
life. When work seems arduous we quickly tire of it; or be- 
cause we are not sure whether we really want the thing for 
which we strive we soon doubt our desire to gain it. When 
we are certain of our own minds, and carry labor to its legit- 
imate end, our undertaking will be crowned with success. 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


We are then confronted with the problem of whether the 
finished product is an aid or a hindrance to us in our quest 
for Reality. We should never concentrate upon any desired 
end until discrimination has revealed it to be the supreme ideal ; 
for the universe avenges itself for the misuse of its agencies by 
forcing us to abide by our own decisions. The ultimate ideal 
of concentration is attained when all the external parts are 
turned inward toward the contemplation of Self. When all 
the forces of the outer nature are thus united, then is generated 
the strength with which to achieve perfection. 

The diagram at the beginning of this chapter sets forth in 
the figurative terms of Platonism the relationship of the ele- 
ments under discussion The threefold Divinity— the One, the 
Beautiful, and the Good — manifests out of itself an incon- 
ceivable number of secondary triads. The secondary triad per- 
taining to absolute knowledge is composed of the rational 
principles now incorporated in the all-too-inadequate vehicles 
of philosophy, religion, and science. Thus it is demonstrated 
that philosophy partakes of the indivisible nature of the One 
and hence serves as the reconciling, unifying agent, being 
symbolic of the point of absolute intellectual convergence. 

Theology likewise reflects to an imperfect degree the nature 
of the Beautiful, a postulate substantiated by the emphasis 
placed upon the fine arts by nearly all religious systems. 
Science, in turn, imperfectly manifests the nature of the Good, 
and those who minister at its altars lay special stress upon 
utilitarianism. Descending to the level of method we find a 
new triad established: namely, discrimination, concentration, 
and observation. Discrimination may be conceived to be the 
goal of philosophy, concentration the goal of theology, and 
observation the goal of science. On the mental plane these 
three may also be considered as indispensable factors in the 
acquisition of knowledge. Observation is the sharpest tool of 
science; concentration is essential to the esoteric doctrines of 
theology; discrimination is the secret of philosophic insight. 

In the world of physical arts and sciences, the One becomes 
mathematics, the first and most exact of all the sciences, which 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

partakes of the powers of the One through the succession of 
philosophy and discrimination. The Beautiful becomes music, 
which partakes of the primal Beauty through the succession of 
theology and concentration. The Good becomes astronomy, 
which partakes of the original Good through the succession of 
science and observation. Thus is demonstrated the soundness 
of the ancient Pythagorean doctrine that the establishment and 
relationship of triads is the true basis of philosophic procedure. 

If the diagram be considered from the standpoint of the 
Socratic school, we have an invaluable key to the unfoldmenr 
of the inner nature. Socrates affirmed the possibility of stimul- 
ating the superphysical nature by familiarizing the objective 
nature with those tangible arts and sciences that had their 
correspondences in the superphysical. For example, the study 
of astronomy increased the power of observation. Through its 
development observation in turn produced the scientist, and the 
scientist plying his scientific pursuits ultimately achieved to a 
knowledge of the Good. Thus unfoldment of the inferior 
stimulated unfoldment of its analogy in the superior, and step 
by step in such indirect fashion the highest was ultimately 

A question frequently asked by metaphysical students is 
how it is possible to stimulate the spiritual nature, and herein 
will be found the answer. Each part of the objective nature 
manifests some potentiality of the subjective life principle. The 
refinement and perfection of any part of the objective nature 
is a direct stimulus to its correspondence in the causal nature 
from which it was originally objectified. Thus the physical 
activity of thinking, when properly directional ized, develops the 
entire mental nature or body. Similarly, the proper direction- 
alization of physical emotion results in the unfoldment of the 
emotional body which, being invisible and intangible, can 
only be contacted through its pole in the outer nature. Even- 
tually man will be able to definitely relate all his physical parts 
and members with their incorporeal causal agencies. He can 
then at will stimulate his superphysical organisms through right 
directionalization of their corresponding physical organisms. 

The Disciplines of Salvation 


The purpose of this chapter is to give a brief outline of 
what constitutes a rational beginning of the philosophic life. 
He who would achieve to the highest must realize that with- 
out the systematic culture of the entire organism, even a rela- 
tive degree of perfection is unattainable. The general meta- 
physical practice of platitudes, affirmations, and denials is un- 
sound in theory and barren of results; for the organization of 
the life is only possible through certain definite, exact, and 
unchanging disciplines that have been preserved to the present 
generation as the priceless heritage of antiquity. 

Many people possess to varying degrees so-called psychic 
powers. Such powers may be considered as natural to them; 
in other words, they have not been acquired by any definite 
effort. But regardless of how remarkable these natural endow- 
ments may seem to both their possessor and the world at large, 
they are a liability rather than an asset unless they are reduced 
to order through philosophic discipline. Nearly all so-called 
natural mystics have missed the goal for which they strove 
because they were satisfied to accept intangibles and indefinite 
attitudes as the lodestar of life. With few exceptions such na- 
tural psychics conceive themselves to be very highly evolved 
souls, unmindful of the fact that the lowliest canine possesses 
psychic powers far exceeding their own; but incapable of ra- 
tionally directing its powers the animal must live and move 
and have its being in bondage to man. The psychic who has 
not through rational discipline become master of these psychic 
endowments is in no way superior spiritually to the brute, and 
will ultimately suffer some brutish end for his irrationality. 
The fond illusion that perfection comes “naturally” to such 
people must go if true consciousness is to be attained. 


Herein is revealed the mystery of the Universal Soul and the redemption of nun 
through the doctrine of grace. When atonement is understood in its Platonic inter- 
pretation as an atone ment, or reconciliation of the not-self and the Self through 
the disciplines of philosophy, we come to sense the magnitude of spiritual redemption. 


The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 

r PHE Christian theory of redemption is unique in that it 
^ emphasizes salvation as attainable in spite of vice rather 
than because of virtue; in fact, the prime saving virtue for the 
Christian is acceptance of the divinity of Jesus Christ. That 
a viewpoint so philosophically unsound could have gained so 
firm a foothold in the number and power of its adherents is 
more than passing strange. 

The early Christian theologians condemned nearly every 
normal attitude of mankind, advocating extreme practices and 
austerities that have produced a full measure of religious neu- 
rotics and worse. Regarded as sanctified souls, these abnormals 
engrafted upon the main body of their faith attitudes and dis- 
ciplines which, being the products of irrationality, only added 
to the general confusion. It is philosophically inconceivable, 
for example, that Deity should advocate flagellation as a means 
by which the flesh could be mortified into a state of piety. 
Nor has any utilitarian value, divine or human, yet been dem- 
onstrated to result from sitting like St. Simeon Stylites for 
thirty years upon the top of a pillar sixty feet in the air. It is 
a theory, ingenious but unconvincing, that to be born was a 
disaster because of the indiscretions of our first parents; that 
to live was a crime to be expiated only by living miserably; 
and that to die was simply a transition by which the members 
of the church militant were reborn into the choirs of the 
church triumphant. 

For the individual living in the cosmopolitan religious at- 
mosphere of North America it is difficult to realize the influence 
wielded by theology over the devout in those countries where 
religion still dominates almost every phase of individual and 


146 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

community life. Out of such a theological autocracy have risen 
organizations differing widely in attitudes and standards. On 
the one hand we find the Misericordia, whose hooded mem- 
bers— often men of distinction and culture— unhesitatingly 
served the needy of every class in the hour of plague or dis- 
aster. On the other hand we find the Ignorantine Friars— 
men of sincere motive but benighted vision — who boast of their 
illiteracy and consider a knowledge of even the fundamental 
principles of life as detrimental to the plan of salvation. While 
not actually requiring austerity of some kind, several great 
world religions openly encourage the practice among the mem- 
bers of their various orders. Even today most people view with 
a marked reverence one who has made of his physical body 
a broken and emaciated sacrifice in the effort to atone for his 
participation in humanity’s heritage of sin. 

The God of joy is dead, and in his stead rules the God of 
tears. Man, unillumined, cannot achieve tranquillity. He strug- 
gles impotently against a universe which, to his myopic vision, 
seems bent on his annihilation but which is really molding 
him into a future god. In his ignorance of the plan the suffer- 
ing human creature conceives all being to be ruled by the 
scepter of sorrow. 

In that supreme dramatic achievement, Lazarus Laughed, 
Eugene O’Neil enunciates the gospel of joy, a gospel which 
must some day supplant grief-stricken theology and lead man 
from the worship of death to the worship of life. Lazarus 
is made to say: “Man’s loneliness is but his fear of life I Lonely 
no more! Millions of laughing stars there are around me! 
And laughing dust, born once of woman on this earth, now 
freed to dance! New stars are born of dust eternally! The 
old, grown mellow with God, burst into flaming seed! The 
fields of infinite space are sown — and grass for sheep springs 
up on the hills of earth 1 But there is no death, nor fear, nor 
loneliness l There is only God’s Eternal Laughter! His Laughter 
flows into the lonely heart!” 

Springing up during the decline of classical pagandom, 
Christianity felt itself divinely called to save the world from 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 147 

the insufficiency of previous doctrines. Witnessing with holy 
horror what it termed the perversions of the barbarians, the 
church finally arrogated to itself the office of sole mediator 
between the spirit of righteousness on the one hand and a way- 
ward world on the other. Arbitrarily seating itself in the chief 
place, with one imperious gesture it dissolved the body religious, 
consigning all previous knowledge and beliefs of man into the 
limbo of decadent cults. Discovering that, like man, no faith 
can live by itself alone, Christianity was later forced to borrow 
from the pagans the very fundamental principles upon which 
its own philosophy is erected. It accordingly accepted the 
concept of heaven and hell as disseminated by the Egyptians 
and Greeks, but changed the personnel of the doorkeepers. The 
angelic hierarchies with which the Jews populated the celestial 
spheres were appropriated en masse and thereupon ceased their 
Hebrew chants to sing hymns in ecclesiastical Latin. With one 
fell swoop Christendom thus became master of all the spheres 
which the enraptured vision of pagan cosmologists had per- 
ceived. The church not only sought to stamp out heathenism 
from the earth but, invading even the uttermost parts of the 
invisible universe, drove the illustrious souls of pagandom from 
their own heavens and hells to make room for the proselytes 
of Christianity. 

In its religious philosophy Christianity was thus truly eclec- 
tic, placing its mark of approval on isolated fragments of 
thought in such a haphazard manner that it is now impossible 
to find any thread of consistency which will bind the whole 
together. Hence, its articles of faith must be considered indi- 
vidually except in the few isolated cases where a common 
denominator is present. According to the churchmen, this 
weight of disagreement is not to be regarded as detracting 
from the sanctity or validity of the articles, since each is the 
direct revelation of a Deity who revealed what he wanted to 
when it pleased him, and whose reasons therefor transcended 
human estimation. Whatever profundity is found in Christian 
philosophy is due primarily to this infusion of pagan ideas. 
Conversely, the shallowness of Christianity is the direct result of 
the clumsy efforts made to improve upon the ancient doctrines. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The integrity of the individual was the keystone of pagan 
idealistic philosophy. The unfoldment of the triune nature of 
man— spiritual, mental, and physical— was based upon the foun- 
dation of personal integrity. Even the most bigoted church 
historian must admit that the magnificent edifices of pagan 
learning were raised upon the solid rock of personal virtue. 
Their philosophy emphasized to both the Egyptians and the 
Greeks the indispensability of right-thinking and right-living 
as prerequisites of right-being. Though the standards of ancient 
integrity may appear curious and obscure to this genera- 
tion, they unquestionably produced an ethical type surpass- 
ing in many ways the products of what we conceive to be our 
more enlightened code. While the pagans are now regarded 
as a superstition-ridden people because of their offerings to their 
Lares and Penates, it remained for Christianity to present the 
human race with the most indefensible and at the same time 
the most vicious of all superstitions, namely, the doctrine of 
vicarious atonement — the redemption of a sinful world by the 
supreme sacrifice of one just man. While the myth of the 
dying god is to be found in many religious systems, Christianity 
was the first and only cult to construe the mythical incident 
as a literal atonement. Christ becomes, so to speak, a scape- 
goat, the sacrifice offered up that the people might go free. 

According to the church, the Passion abolished the old order 
of approach to Divinity and supplanted it with a brand-new 
modus operandi of salvation. Heaven, earth, and hell were all 
dislodged from their time-honored foundation lines, and the sins 
of all creation were wiped out by the blood of the Lamb. 
Even the impassive sternness of Deity relaxed at the spectacle 
of this sublime and supreme ordeal. The incident of the cruci- 
fixion monopolized the stage in the drama of Christianity, for 
it speedily overshadowed any and all other dogmas to such a 
degree that mere admission of the universal import of Christ’s 
incarnation and death became the sole prerequisite of spiritual 

Thus a new standard of integrity was created which, how- 
ever, still conveyed to the enlightened few its cryptic message 
of mystical ideality, but which could not fail to be interpreted 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 149 

by the unenlightened masses as evidence of the supremacy of 
words over works, of affirmation over action. Whereas the 
criers of the pagan Mysteries, according to Celsus, declared the 
superior worlds to be attainable only by men and women of 
outstanding intellect and lives consecrated to individual regen- 
eration, the criers of the Christian Mysteries offered heaven with 
its eternal bliss to anyone who would confess his sins and affirm 
the divinity of Jesus Christ. 

Twenty centuries of application have demonstrated the dan- 
ger of the doctrine of vicarious atonement. Undermining the 
morale of Christendom, this concept has resulted in a philos- 
ophy of special privileges and exceptions which has infected 
church and state alike. This doctrine has caused the history 
of Christendom to be written in letters of blood. Nearly all 
who have enjoyed its privileges have donned the garments of 
sorrow, and kneeling in sackcloth and ashes cried for liberation 
from the bondage of its dogma. An emperor of China once 
said: “Wherever Christians go they whiten the soil with human 
bones; and I will not have Christianity in my empire.” 

How can anyone who has sensed the dignity of the Universal 
Plan reconcile the eternal justice of divine procedure with the 
right of excommunication in which the body religious ejects 
into outer darkness some offending hand or foot, enjoining 
such a soul forever from further participation in the goodness 
of God? How insignificant must be the power of that heaven 
or that hell which mortal man so easily manipulates at will! 
Where in the realm of all that is noble and just is there place 
for the concept that the souls of millions of babes are doomed 
to wander in the black vistas of the lost because they died in 
infancy without baptism? A faith cruel enough to espouse 
such doctrines inevitably inspires cruelty in its followers; for 
if it will damn its own with such unfeeling malignancy, how 
can it be expected to show mercy to the stranger without the gate? 

The survival of the church, therefore, is contingent upon its 
own realization of how it has misinterpreted both the real 
mission of its founder and the symbolism of the pagan cults 
from which it derived the subject matter of its creed. Chris- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tianity will never be a great religion until its adherents recog- 
nize that it is merely a new body serving as the vehicle of an 
old idea; that when it departs from the original concepts to 
wander in the maze of theological absurdities, it defeats the 
primary purpose for which it was conceived. These unnatural 
attitudes of theologians toward life have resulted in the establish- 
ment of an unnatural faith wherein the lofty principles of the 
ancient philosophers have been distorted out of all semblance to 
their true import. 

Christianity as the only true religion is worthless. If the 
faith, however, be regarded as a definite step in religious evolu- 
tion, it is then possible to estimate its importance with a rea- 
sonable degree of accuracy. Christianity is not the sole revela- 
tion of God to man. It is but a fractional part of the body re- 
ligious. It is simply a crutch upon which the genus homo leans 
until he learns to stand and walk alone. It is something he 
believes in before he is capable of believing in himself with 
understanding. Like all external things it will finally pass 
away and be remembered only for that which it contributed 
to the inner realization of its devotees. 

The three major doctrines concerning the plan of redemp- 
tion are: (1) redemption through mass effort; (2) redemption 
through individual effort; and (3) redemption through the 
vicarious atonement. The Jews, as a “chosen” people, are an 
example of the first concept; Platonic philosophy, with its re- 
peated emphasis upon individual achievement, is example 
of the second; and Christianity, with its World Martyr, is the 
outstanding example of the third. 

Tli rough out the entire structure of Western thought there 
is a definite emphasis upon the factor of individuality. In the 
Orient, however, perfection is considered possible only through 
the annihilation of individuality. Without much careful ex- 
amination of their underlying principles, these divergent sys- 
tems of philosophy are apparently irreconcilable. 

To the trained thinker the attainment of perfection as the 
result of individual effort is by far the most rational viewpoint 
toward the problem of redemption; for it is natural to presume 

The Doctrine op Redemption Through Grace 151 

that in an orderly universe each element must diligently work 
out its own salvation. In things spiritual, humanity in general 
realizes all too well the insufficiency of its own knowledge, 
and only because of its fatuous belief that it can reap where 
it has not sown is the situation rendered bearable. 

The doctrine of the vicarious atonement opens the gates of 
heaven to millions who in their own right are not entitled to 
admission. It is surprising the tenacity with which this idea 
retains its hold upon the public mind, even after modern edu- 
cational facilities have dissipated the theory of a personal God. 
The palpable inadequacy of the literal interpretation of the 
vicarious atonement is almost conclusive proof that it has a 
more subtle significance only to be discovered by the most 
searching analysis of the philosophic elements involved. 

The doctrine of the vicarious atonement is based upon the 
debatable question of the precedence of love over law. It is 
written, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only 
begotten Son, that whosoever belie veth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life.” (John iii:16). If the pos- 
tulate of a personal Deity is accepted, then it is not unreasonable 
that a just Creator should send his representative into the 
world to make known his will to man. It is not philosophic- 
ally sound, however, that God should love the world more 
because that selfsame world had crucified his only begotten 1 
In the early writings of the Church Fathers it is declared that 
Christ, by virtue of having died for mankind, appeared before 
the throne of his Father to intercede for the world for which 
he had sacrificed his life. Like his prototypes Bacchus and 
Dionysus, Christ was a personification of Divine Love — the in- 
explicable emotion. Since the dawning of his rational faculties, 
man has striven to understand the position occupied by spiritual- 
ized emotion in the Universal Plan. He is able to classify the 
entire procedure of life and postulate the laws by which the 
universe is governed, but the riddle of love has proved more 
elusive than even the riddle of life itself. 

Since man invests Deity with feelings akin to his own, so 
God was considered to be not only the Lord of judgment and 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

order, but also the Lord of love. Since man loved those who 
were close to him in the world, so he visualized the Deity as 
likewise bestowing his affections upon those "chosen” peoples 
who obeyed his laws and made proper sacrifice. As the out- 
growth of this man-made concept, the God of antiquity was 
ever swayed by caprice. At one time he would exalt his 
people and prosper their efforts; at another time he would 
scourge them with his wrath and wreak his vengeance upon 
them. Like Zeus on Olympus, the Creator was subject to in- 
constant moods, at one moment minded to scatter with his 
divine lightnings all his fashionings and the next to elevate 
them to a parity with himself. 

Since God had created man, it was assumed by theologians 
that he must also to some degree remember and love these 
imperfect products of his handiwork. Hence, to redeem an 
inconstant creation from its own inconstancy, the Word took 
upon itself flesh, and being fashioned in the image of man 
dwelt among men, preaching the law and giving those who 
accepted the law an opportunity to survive the Armageddon 
which would sweep away the unbelieving. After that event 
the earth, it was presumed, would then become once more an 
Edenic garden where the elect would dwell in unbroken felicity 
throughout the uncounted eternities of futurity. The inner 
realization of the truth of this concept was redemption, and 
insured membership in the body of the redeemed. 

To the scientist and the philosopher, however, it is evident 
that God is not a man nor in any way limited in his manifes- 
tation by the laws governing the inferior creation. In spite of 
all theological argument to the contrary, it is unthinkable 
that the Universal Spirit — whose dwelling is immeasurable space 
and in whose vast nature suns, moons, and stars are infinitesimal 
atoms — could have localized itself in a little Syrian town and 
been born in the image of a man. In our search for fundamen- 
tal truths we must discard the notion that the various elements 
in this mysterious drama are personalities, and thus restore 
them to their true dignity as universal principles. 

For many centuries it has been believed that to destroy the 
personality of God was to detract from his magnificence, 

The Doctrine op Redemption Through Grace 153 

when in reality to invest him with a personality is to degrade 
him to the estate of man. Impersonality is a divine attribute; 
it is a state inherent in the nature of God, and a condition to 
which man must attain in the quest of his own divinity. If the 
personality— -yes, even the individuality— of God is discarded as 
an illusion of the human mind, Deity is thereby elevated to its 
true philosophic estate, namely, an all-pervading, universalized 
essence. It naturally follows that this essence is without either 
footstool or throne; it does not hover over either communities 
or individuals but is distributed without partiality throughout 
the entire substance of space. 

But, the orthodox Christian will exclaim, how did the proph- 
ets and saviors of old have face-to-face interviews with such 
a Deity? The answer is simple: They didn’t. Wherever such 
conversations are recorded they are symbolic references to the 
inner experiences of the spiritual life. They come under the 
same general heading of what psychologists now term the 
“mystical experience,” and are concerned solely with extensions 
of consciousness and degrees of realization. The phenomena 
accompanying these experiences are simply allegorical descrip- 
tions of mystical conditions couched in language suitable for 
the moral instruction of those in whom this inner nature is 
still dormant. 

The impersonal izing of all the host of spiritual agencies 
introduces an entirely new aspect into the problem of the 
vicarious atonement, for it is quite evident that the cause of 
humanity could not be pleaded before a tribunal composed mere- 
ly of symbolic figures of universal agencies. Archangels could 
scarcely be present when archangels are emblems of spiritual 
forces. And that God should appear in wig and robe is as in- 
conceivable as that the Holy Ghost is actually a dove. At first 
glance the whole idea may savor of sacrilege, but upon sober 
reflection the reader will realize that it is the first step toward 
the elevation of Deity to an estate worthy of the Universal Parent 

A consideration of the problem of the vicarious atonement, 
if confined purely to the present superficial and conventional 
lines of treatment, must inevitably subject the doctrine to honest 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

doubt and ridicule. Hence, the student of theology must cast 
about for the fountainhead in which the doctrine had its real 
inception. Christianity borrowed so much from the Orphic 
philosophy that the student should not be criticized but rather 
commended if he turns in that direction. Nor will he be dis- 
appointed. The Neoplatonism of Alexandria also furnishes 
a clue, and Gnosticism (especially the Alexandrian branch) 
is permeated with valuable suggestions. 

The diagram at the beginning of this chapter should be 
studied carefully in connection with this subject. The three 
intersecting globes— designated the Causal Universe, the Inter- 
mediate Sphere, and the Inferior Universe — are representative 
of the threefold universe. The Causal Universe is the universe 
of spirit and is ruled over by the law of the spirit, which is 
absolute and unchanging. The Intermediate Sphere— which 
signifies the World Soul — is governed by its own laws, which 
laws are inconceivable to mortal man but whose mysterious 
synchronizing urge man defines as love . The dark Inferior 
Universe below also has its own laws by which it ipas created, 
is maintained, and will ultimately be dissolved. These are called 
the natural laws of life, but have been elevated by theology to 
the dignity of divine laws. Consequently, when we speak of 
those natural laws which we regard as the manifestations of 
God, we refer to those causal agencies governing the Inferior 
Universe, which in their entirety are termed in ancient philos- 
ophy the will of the Demiurgus, or Lord of the World. 

The keynote of the Inferior Universe is law. Those whose 
consciousness does not elevate them above its limitations have 
not learned as yet to temper justice with mercy; they still live 
in the concept of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and 
boast of the inexorable quality of these universal laws. 

The keynote of the Intermediate Sphere is love, which is also 
a law moving in perfect concord with the principles of the soul, 
its true vehicle. The apparent inconsistencies of physical affec- 
tion are referable to two sources: (1) the principle of love is 
often confused with animal emotion, a physical propensity; 
<2) where love does manifest in its true nature, its manifesta- 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 155 

tion — like all spiritual functions in man— is intermittent; for 
meeting with the obstacle of matter it is distorted and its con- 
sistency usually broken up. 

The keynote of the Causal Universe is divine law as opposed 
to the natural law of the Inferior Universe. Divine law is not 
comparable with natural law in that it is the power directional- 
izing consciousness. It never manifests in the physical universe 
in a manner sufficiently detached to be susceptible of analysis. 
In the famous play by that name, “Mr. Wu,” the Chinese man- 
darin, is made to say when describing the customs of his people: 
“The law by which we live is the law by which we die.” 
Tersely stated, such are the laws or forces manipulating the 
Inferior Universe. In the Causal Universe, however, are found 
only the laws by which things endure, for there neither life 
nor death exists. 

By some eminent authorities Christianity is maintained to 
be an Oriental cult in that it emphasizes the necessity of the 
contemplative life and regards the visible universe as an illu- 
sional sphere from which man cannot escape save through the 
spiritual nature of Jesus Christ. Christ here is regarded as the 
channel or mediatory power by means of which it is possible 
to emerge from the dark underworld and become one with 
the sphere of Reality. St. Paul lays special emphasis upon the 
effectiveness of belief and, conversely, the ineffectiveness of 
accomplishment. He says: “For by grace are ye saved through 
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of 
works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. ii:8-9). 

The “works” here mentioned signify outward activities, re- 
gardless of the degree of their constructiveness. According to 
this view it is — strictly speaking— useless to engage even in vir- 
tuous endeavor, for all endeavor (virtuous or otherwise) is 
simply an illusion. The outward nature of the individual is re- 
garded as incapable of good in that it is a part of the world 
and stained with the sin common to mortality. All of the outer 
life with its endless diversity of interest must consequently be 
cast aside and sole emphasis be placed upon the spiritual nature, 
which alone is capable of approach to Reality. This viewpoint 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

(in which the best life is a failure unless accompanied by an 
unquestioning faith in the infallibility of the church) was the 
natural outgrowth of, and became most powerful in, an age of 
physical insecurity where life and property were in constant 
jeopardy. Investment in things physical had slight appeal 
where an entire community might be swept away to gratify a 
besotted emperor’s whim, or where tens of thousands might 
perish to furnish sport for a Roman holiday. 

With the twentieth century, however, new attitudes and new 
scenes occupy the world stage. Chief emphasis is now placed 
upon physical existence. Every effort of inventive and legis- 
lative genius is concentrated upon the improvement and security 
of this existence in order that at least a relative degree of com- 
fort (if not happiness) may be enjoyed by the masses. When 
defeat in war or the distemper of his superiors brought to man 
no alternative other than that of slavery, he had but one hope: 
namely, that he might speedily die. Where social inequity thus 
decreed unhesitating obedience to the dictates of tyrants, there 
inevitably resulted a philosophy which emphasized as the only 
conceivable freedom the state beyond the grave. But the 
modern man and woman do not regard this earth as such a 
forbidding place that immediate escape therefrom is a pleasing 
prospect. Science is ever devising conveniences which, while 
they may ultimately result in deterioration of our more rugged 
racial virtues, are fast becoming the common enjoyment of 
nearly every stratum of society. Man’s chief struggle is now 
for leisure in which to improve himself, and in the mechanical 
trend of his civilization he visualizes a world which will some 
day be maintained by automata so that the present slaves of in- 
dustry may have opportunity to acquire the cultural benefits of 
art, science, and philosophy. 

In every walk of life the necessity for finer mental function- 
ing is keenly recognized. The world of St. Paul has disap- 
peared forever, and with the passing of the old regime has 
gone that concept of the world as merely a highly magnified 
Roman Empire, with the Demiurgus, or fabricator of it, as a 
dissipated Caesar served by a degenerate court. The spirit of 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 157 

democracy prevalent in the realm of government has even in- 
vaded the domain of spirit, and in a certain sense the Lord of 
the world is now elected by the popular vote of the citizenry. 
Little by little the universe has assumed so many of the features 
of democracy that it begins to display the inconsistencies of a 
democratic system. Not many centuries ago man bowed stolid- 
ly before the doctrine of the divine right of kings, and if deep 
in his heart he resented the intolerance of his rulers he dared 
not breathe that criticism. It has been but a similar short time 
since man first dared to speak the name of God; when those 
few who had the temerity to discuss matters of religion hid 
themselves in attic or cellar lest the world should learn of their 

Today, however, if we do not like our magistrates we sum- 
marily impeach them; if our kings annoy us we dethrone them, 
while to ridicule and caricature their slightest eccentricity is 
an open-field diversion. In his unfoldment of self-expression 
man finally grew bold enough to question the dictates of theol- 
ogy; nay even to debate publicly the infallibility of dogma 
and challenge the God of antiquity to destroy him with his 
ire. Today man no more hesitates to dispute so-called divine 
mandates than he does to find fault with the conclusions of 
petty politicians. 

To deal with such a complete reversal of attitudes requires 
an entirely new interpretation of divine law. Man no longer 
kneels when he worships; he stands up and faces his Creator 
unafraid. While at first this may savor of rank heresy, it will 
yet prove to be the solid foundation of a newer and truer cri- 
terion of conduct. By almost imperceptible degrees the Creator 
has come to be regarded as synonymous with the agencies con- 
trolling creation. He no longer makes laws and later breaks 
them; he is now an integral part of the great scheme itself, 
bowing before the same immutable principles that sway the 
whole of Being. The philosophic code for this age will em- 
phasize obedience to Nature’s laws, for he who follows most 
closely Nature’s example will become the most virtuous and 
estimable member of society. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Primitive man innately worshipped that of which he was 
most afraid. The Demiurgus, or Lord of the Inferior Universe, 
was an imminent autocrat by whose thunderbolts all the achieve- 
ments of man were shattered. This wielder of destiny, who 
arbitrarily dictated the end of things and who even molded 
the act of Providence according to his fancy, was regarded as 
part God, part demon. He was a God of every imaginable 
wrath and horror, whose voice was heard in the thunderclap, 
whose throne was the tempest, and who rocked the earth with 
his displeasure. According to this view laws were but divine 
whims to be changed at divine pleasure, and as diversified as 
divine moods. None dared to question the right of Deity to 
elevate one man an debase another for the same deed. The 
universe was run at the pleasure of an erratic agent who moved 
individual and nations like pawns upon a chess-board, and 
when he tired of the game simply brushed them all away 
with a gesture of his hand. While entire races languished in 
the benighted state of savagery, this God concerned himself 
particularly (as Voltaire has noted) with the number of bells 
on the petticoats of his high priest! In terms of modern psy- 
chology, this Demiurgus functioned in the “detail” mind. 

While the Demiurgus was an important figure in all ancient 
philosophy, it remained for Christianity to elevate him to 
chief position among the gods of the universe. To the Greeks 
he was known as Zeus, who, though father of the gods and 
lord of the world according to popular concept, was in the 
enlightened eyes of the sage a subordinate deity who might 
thunder at his pleasure without ruffling the disposition of the 
wise; for only such as accepted the reality of ignorance, fear, 
and death could be controlled by the Demiurgus. As philos- 
ophy annihilated these three superstitions and liberated man 
from bondage to his own terror, those who drank of its life- 
giving waters escaped from the sway of the Demiurgus and 
became citizens of a greater and nobler world. 

It is not difficult to understand the misconception that ele- 
vated the Regent of the physical universe to chief place among 
the gods. We understand best that which is most like ourselves, 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 159 

and the Demiurgus partakes so abundantly of human frailties 
that we can almost truthfully declare that we understand him. 
When he casts down a rebellious people who insist on making 
altars round in form when he desires them square, he is simply 
treating us to that arbitrary exhibition of power which most 
men would like to exhibit if they possessed it. This God is 
therefore very close to the human heart; as close in fact as 
human concepts of hate, revenge, and destructiveness. 

The Divine Spirit, superior to all this petty bargaining for 
favors; in whose nature virtue is supreme, and who with in- 
finite “mildness” and perfect compassion broods over the des- 
tiny of Cosmos, is so unlike benighted humanity that man can- 
not estimate its qualities other than by intellectual means. 
Hence, the first person of the ancient triad of gods was the 
recipient of little veneration. Ammon is said to have had but 
one temple in Egypt, whereas Ra and Osiris (the lesser mem- 
bers of the Creative Triad) had sanctuaries to the number of 
many thousands. In India the shrines of Vishnu and Shiva dot 
the landscape on every hand, but where are the temples of 
Brahma? Throughout Christendom where are the altars of 
God the Father? His Son has churches unnumbered and even 
the Virgin and the saints all have niches in conspicuous places, 
but God, the sole Creator, is apparently forgotten, or rather ab- 
sorbed in the glory of his own emanations. God rhe Father 
will thus remain without place of worship until men become 
capable of comprehending the principle for which Divinity 
stands. When the spirit of God the Father takes up its abode 
in their lives, then will his symbols representative of under- 
standable principles be present in the world. The new religion 
to come will worship God in his creative aspect as being 
superior to his preservative (the Christos) and his destructive 
(the Jehovistic) aspects. 

When the true relationship existing between the various 
members of the Creative Family (the Trinity) has been es- 
tablished, the real significance of the doctrine of salvation 
through grace is at once apparent. Ancient philosophy con- 
cerned itself with this problem of the Demiurgus, and the 

160 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

method of evading the doom awaiting those caught in his net 
of illusion. Hence, philosophy was, primarily, a discipline 
evolved to elevate man above the Demiurgic level and enable 
him to dwell in the realm of spirit over which the Lord of Form 
was powerless. In other words, salvation was achieved by es- 
caping from the material self; by liberating the eternal Knower 
from its noneternal sheath. Christendom believes that this 
escape was made possible through the incarnation, death, and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ, who by rolling away the stone from 
his sepulcher liberated all mankind from bondage to the 
concept that death was the finale to life. Only such as be- 
lieve in death can actually die and they alone are actually in 
slavery to the world and its Regent. Thousands of years, how- 
ever, before the birth of Jesus Christ, pagandom “liberated” 
man from servitude to his inferior self, creating by means of 
the Mysteries that “royal road” leading upward to permanence 
from impermanence. By an infinite grace the door between 
the dark world below and the bright spiritual sphere above 
was thus left ajar, and through this mystic portal passed the 
illumined of the ages. 

When Jesus Christ as the personification of the qualities of 
the rational soul is made to say: “I am the way, the truth and 
the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (St. John 
xiv:6), it is abundantly evident that he spoke in a figurative sense 
and that the saving principle thus referred to is not to be under- 
stood as a personality. The “way” here signifies the spiral path 
of attainment established in the world coincident with creation 
itself. This way — which is in truth the plan of salvation itself — • 
can scarcely be regarded as a man, even though a highly 
illumined one. Nor can “truth” be conceived of as an indi- 
vidual, for truth is the unchanging nature of things as they 
actually are— a concept transcending the comprehension of 
mortal creatures. Finally, the mystical “life” by which the 
regeneration of the individual is wrought is unrelatable to any 
personality, since it obviously exists as an all-pervading prin- 
ciple. In this enigmatic fashion is set forth the fact that Christ 
(the Christos) signifies the procedures and qualities of that 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 151 

cosmic rationality which, according to the Greeks, had its seat 
in the rational soul of all men but which manifested itself only 
in those who through the disciplines of philosophy had lifted 
their irrational selves to a state of participation in the effulgence 
of the rational soul. In the Greek Cabala, the numerical value 
of Christ (Christos) is 888 which means the higher mind, and 
which the Greeks conceived to be the spiritual Knower com- 
plemented by rationalized, or regenerated, intellect. 

As rationality is at first latent in all irrational things, new 
light is thus thrown upon the statement, “Christ in you, the 
hope of glory.” In other words, the rationality in you is the 
saving “grace.” The word grace has two distinct shades of 
meaning. It may be considered as the mercy of God by which 
he chooses to pardon those parts of himself which momen- 
tarily displease him. In its aesthetic sense, however, grace be- 
comes an actual attribute of the internal nature itself. Some- 
times we use words better than we know. The ninth defini- 
tion of grace in Webster’s New International Dictionary reads: 

“Attractiveness; charm; esp., the aesthetic value shown 
in suppleness and ease, spontaneity, and tactful harmony; 
the charm of congruity, harmony, and pliancy in beauty as 
distinguished from sublimity or force; beauty as displayed 
in free flowing curves, easy and natural contours, fluent 
color, or felicitous and musftal diction; as applied to persons, 
manners, etc., easy and natural elegance; in a weakened 
sense, propriety; seemliness; comeliness.” 

It is thus evident that the grace by which man is saved may 
be considered not only as an attribute of Deity but also as an 
attribute of man himself. From the latter point of view man 
works out his own salvation through aesthetics, in which his 
own innate grace actually becomes his redeeming virtue. If we 
correlate the triune nature of God to the One, the Beautiful, 
and the Good, the quality of grace in the light of the definition 
quoted at once becomes synonymous with the Beautiful. Thus, 
microcosm ically, grace is the rhythm in the human soul, and 
macrocosmically, the universal harmony by which the divine 

162 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

beauty of the Plan is revealed as coessential with the divine 
order of the Plan. It will yet be philosophically established 
that the grace which man himself develops in his relationship 
to the manifold problems of life will be the grace by which 
his salvation is assured. 

The popular concept that belief in the divinity of Christ 
is a prerequisite to virtuous living may be interpreted in a way 
which casts considerable light upon an otherwise obscure sub- 
ject. In this case all depends upon the interpretation of the 

word belief. If belief is regarded as merely an intellectual ac- 

ceptance of the truth of a statement, then the entire subject 
simply resolves itself into another theological absurdity. If, 

however, belief takes the form of an inner realization of the 
spiritual truths involved, then indeed it is a spiritual power. 
Belief in immortality must precede knowledge of immortality. 
That faith upon which man establishes his philosophy of life 
and which gives him the courage to sacrifice all in the quest of 
that which is the greatest good, is indeed a sustaining faith. For 
example, the neophyte entering the House of Wisdom assumes 
the disciplines of philosophy because he has faith in the efficacy 
of philosophy; he believes that the path he has chosen will 
ultimately lead him to where faith will be exchanged for 

understanding, and belief for knowledge. Belief, then, in the 
reality and faith in the attainability of achievement— these are 
indispensable to accomplishment. Faith in self and belief in 
the divinity of self— these must precede perfection. But faith 
without works is dead, and belief is valueless unless it inspires 
to the attainment of the thing believed in. 

According to the vicarious atonement, one just man ex- 
piated the sins of an unjust world. In the Orphic philosophy 
a mysterious agency— which men indiscriminately call love, 
beauty, or harmony, but which the Greeks termed the rational 
soul — descended out of the perfection of Deity where it had 
existed in an undivided state and was scattered like seed 
throughout the substances of the inferior world. As the Demi- 
urgus could control only matter, these seeds from a higher 
sphere were of too exalted a nature to be dominated by his 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 163 

edict. These seeds remained apparently lifeless, however, 
through the dawn period of the world, the Demiurgus molding 
the substances of matter at his pleasure and ignoring the germs 
lying dormant therein. Worlds and men were thus gradually 
fabricated until the whole genera of life appeared, but still the 
seeds remained inactive. Man wandered hopelessly in the 
gloom of mortality, living and dying without light or under- 
standing in his servitude to the Demiurgus and his host of 
spirits. At last the spirit of rebellion entered creation in the 
form of Lucifer, who in the guise of a serpent tempted man to 
revolt against the mandates of Jehovah (the Demiurgus). In 
Greece this character was known as Prometheus, who brought 
from the gods the impregnating flame that would release the 
life latent in this multitude of germlike potentialities. In 
Christianity, Christ (the Christos) is the divine fire which, 
striking the latent germs of immortality, liberates them from 
their ages of im potency. 

As man emerged from barbarism and began to cultivate 
what may be called the intuitional, or soul qualities, an environ- 
ment of beauty was thereby created wherein the germ of the 
rational soul could be stimulated and made to grow to the point 
where it would completely remold the life of man in terms of 
the beautiful and the true. In a purely technical sense there are 
three definite methods by which man may impregnate this 
germ of spirituality within himself. The first method is known 
as worlds and in antiquity was symbolized by the soldier who 
went forth to "fight the good fight.” The age of chivalry was 
the natural product of the ideal that the greatest good could 
be accomplished by destroying the forces of evil and thus at- 
tempt to re-establish the golden age upon earth. The second 
method is love , under which heading is included the factors of 
faith, belief, and service. Through prayer and devotion to 
noble ideals a certain glorification is awakened in the life. 
Love is elevated and impersonalized until it becomes a great 
spiritual urge stimulating all that is true and noble within the 
soul. The third method is philosophy. The venerable sage, 
contemplating the wisdom of the ages, thus sought to elevate 
his rational nature until it could gaze unafraid upon the vast- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

ness of Being, The understanding thus created excites a noble 
intellectual passion which brings with it the stimulation of the 
soul qualities. In all three methods there is a crowning state— 
a condition of apotheosis or ecstasy in which for a moment 
man actually dwells upon the plane of his ideals. The knight 
in deadly combat rose to heights of heroism wherein he gladly 
gave his life for principle. TTiose in whom faith is the dom- 
inant factor are elevated to a condition of overwhelming prox- 
imity to Deity, as testified to by the enraptured visions of the 
mystic. To the philosopher there comes the gradual realization 
of cosmic immensities; and at length the sublime spectacle of 
it all picks him up and sweeps him into the philosopher’s heaven 
—a state where all thought is clarfied and the rational faculties 
become momentarily able to cope with the riddle of existence. 

Regardless of the means by which this clearer and larger 
vision is attained, its purpose is ever the same. The ecstatic 
state becomes like a bolt of fire which, striking the germ of 
rationality within the physical nature of man, causes them to 
burst open and release that universal redeeming and rationaliz- 
ing power which was mixed with primordial matter before 
it was molded into worlds. Thus what Jacob Boehme calls 
“the tree of the soul” has its beginning. Its roots are in the 
dark earth of mortality, but gradually the tiny shoot— whose 
very nature is Divinity— grows upward to blossom forth into 
a beautiful and noble plant. When once this seed of Divinity 
has been quickened the power of the Demiurgus is broken. 
The Lord of the world may thunder his displeasure. Though 
he slay man a thousand times, yet shall that man live, for life 
has been awakened within him. Though all the furies of crea- 
tion may attempt to destroy that tiny soul-plant, yet shall it 
prevail against them, for it is composed of the substances over 
which death and destruction are powerless. Through the dis- 
ciplines of the Mysteries this redeeming plant— which the Chris- 
tians have called Christ — is caused to increase in power and 
magnitude until in its perfected state it absorbs into itself all of 
the irrational nature upon whose substances it was formerly 

The Doctrine of Redemption Through Grace 165 

When it is realized that antiquity postulated a period called 
the golden age during which the rational soul so controlled 
universal manifestation that all things lived together in a state 
of harmony, beauty, and goodness, all the elements necessary 
to complete the world drama of salvation are at hand. The 
rational soul is therefore the beloved of the Father, dwelling 
with God (the One) in a state of absolute felicity. Again, the 
spirit of beauty and truth is symbolized as the beloved son of 
the Universal Spirit through whose rhythmic principles the im- 
measurable dignity of the First Cause is most adequately mani- 
fested. Then came the symbolic “fall” of man foreshadowed 
in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the spirit of uni- 
versal harmonics. As Bacchus was torn to pieces by the Titans 
and his dismembered parts scattered throughout the universe, 
so the principle of redeeming beauty (or love) was disseminated 
as the aforementioned seeds throughout the irrational sphere. 
When man reawakens (resurrects) this spirit of universal love, 
it ascends into the presence of the Creator, there to intercede for 
that regenerated one. 

The newly unfolded realization that beauty is the most 
powerful of all agencies is itself the redeeming grace, and the 
vicarious atonement merely signifies that there is a spirit of 
beauty resident in mortal man which can accomplish for mortal 
man what he cannot accomplish for himself. Two natures 
reside in every individual: one, as Goethe says, to the heavens 
aspires, the other in the earth suspires. The heaven-man (the 
Christos in us) is not born of woman but is conceived of the 
Holy Ghost. This spiritual agent becomes our redeemer when 
of our own free will we elect it to be the master and director 
of our activities. Thus the just man in us redeems his own 
sinful shadows. He descends into hell and forever abolishes 
the power of evil; he ascends into heaven and pleads our cause 
in the firmament. Through him we partake of Divinity even 
as through our outer natures we partake of humanity. 

As man increases in rationality the spirit of the beautiful 
begins its ministry of transmuting the baser elements of the 
not-self. The uncouthness of the nature gradually disappears, 

166 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

and tinctured with the grace of the indwelling Divinity the 
outer nature is transformed. The rationality within permeates 
the entire structure causing it to sing with a new harmony and 
establishing a more perfect symmetry between its component 
parts. Thus mortal man who is nothing of himself, is brought 
into proximity with the sky-man, who is the spirit of life and 
truth. When the union of the two is effected and the animal 
nature— the relapsed heretic of the ages — is at last converted 
to the true faith, then the miracles so eloquently described in 
Scripture take place. Those who are mentally and spiritually 
crippled are healed; those who are blind to the greater realities 
of life are made to see; those driven frantic by the seven devils 
of worldly desires are freed from their bondage to the senses; 
and those tainted with the leprosy of ignorance are cleansed. 
Furthermore, those who hunger for the food that satisfies the 
inner self shall be fed by that inner knowledge which is the 
true bread of life. 

When rationality — not in the sense of intellectuality but of 
true and beautiful knowing in the sense of identity with spirit — 
assumes the reins of human life, then that life becomes beauti- 
ful and happy in the fullest and truest sense. From this and 
other evidence it can be established with philosophic certainty 
that Christ is indeed the spirit of truth, which few recognize 
but which when recognized becomes the redeemer of the life. 
He who desires to recognize this truth must realize that it is 
the supreme goal of all endeavor. He who would succeed in 
his quest for it must first of all develop one peculiar faculty 
which we will term appreciation. 

It has often been said that appreciation touches off endeavor, 
but here again is a word with two meanings. We ordinarily 
conceive appreciation to mean the esteem felt by others for 
ourselves, but what it actually means is the esteem we feel for 
others. The heart that is receptive to the beautiful in life will 
achieve unity with the object of its desire. Man possesses the 
power to appreciate and recognize the goodness and beauty of 
existence. This power which makes realization possible is itself 
the blood of the divine Bacchus — the god-soul — who through 

The Doctrine op Redemption Through Grace 167 

its blood in man shall redeem the world, There is in us a cer- 
tain spiritual capacity: the power to be more than we are, the 
power to be more than simply a crawling worm bowing humbly 
before the despotic Regent of the world. This power to tran- 
scend our mortal selves is symbolized by the blood of the god- 
man that, freed by the spear of necessity, pours down into the 
cup of matter, there to remain as the cleansing blood. 

Age after age finds mankind soaring to nobler heights, and 
each passing generation shows some marked progress in the 
realization of new ideals. Let us then realize that this power 
to increase; this power to elevate us so high that even the stars 
cannot restrain us; this power to be magnified until the very 
universe becomes a confining wall; this power which enables 
us to face our Creator unafraid; this rational Knower who is 
limitless — this is the Universal Savior, the Christ, which in the 
magnificence of itself ultimately atones for all that has gone 
before and by right of its very existence makes man partaker 
of all good things to come. Man cannot be destroyed by his 
gods because his gods are within himself. By his incarnation, 
Christ (the rational soul) infuses into all creation a quality as 
immortal as the gods themselves. By right of this capacity for 
divinity within himself man may not be cast aside, but is en- 
titled to infinite opportunity and divine protection. Thus is 
the symbolism preserved whereby a man through the Christ in 
him shall arrive at the condition of that glorified perfection 
which is now the object of his faith. Each of us is struggling 
to be free from the bondage of his mortal sepulcher. TTie sky- 
man yearns for the stars, and if he be lifted up to his true estate 
of first place in the constitution of man will draw all the rest 
unto him that all good works may be brought to speedy con- 
summation. The science of redemption may be said to embrace 
any and all means by which the dormant germ-like potentialities 
of Divinity resident within all human nature are first awakened 
and then stimulated to divine perfection through aspiration. 
In summing up it follows, therefore, that such diversified ele- 
ments as beauty, belief, grace, faith, love, appreciation, labor, 
and thought — all being expressions of rationality — are indispen- 
sable to the perfection of the whole. 


The Universal Germ, stirring within the Egg of Creation, established the world 
and generations by three “gestures. ,, It fashioned the souls of things according 
Virtue, the bodies of things according to Beauty, and the laws by which sou* 
bodies are maintained according to the Necessary. Together these comprise 
Work which is called The Good . 


The Mission of Aesthetics 

A ESTHETICS is that branch of philosophy concerned pri- 
** marily with the intrinsic nature of beauty, its place in 
the Divine Plan, and the processes whereby beauty can be 
created or caused to manifest where previously it did not exist 
in a tangible state. That beauty produces a profound effect 
upon the entire nature of man is too well established to be 
questioned. Just what constitutes beauty, however, and why it 
wields so profound an influence is still a subject of controversy. 
Is environment the basis of an aesthetic standard; that is, does 
the familiar become the standard of aesthetic propriety? In a 
limited sense this must be true. On the other hand, man has 
been surrounded for ages with such familiar themes as war, 
disease, and decay; yet he has never come to regard these as 
beautiful, at least not in his lucid moments. Beauty, declared 
the ancients, results from the harmonious correlation of parts; 
the spectacle of the mutual agreement of all the elements in- 
volved in a common pattern creates a pleasant reaction in the 
sensory organism of man. That the urge toward what man 
terms the beautiful is universally present in Nature was also 
asserted. Certain natural processes were cited in support of this 
belief. For example, vines and creepers rapidly grow up to 
hide the gaunt outlines of a rotted tree, and flowers in profusion 
blanket the shell-torn fields of Flanders once made horrible by 
the unleashed fury of man. 

Standards of beauty vary with the evolutionary status of 
races and individuals. The preference displayed by the nobil- 
ity of Hawaii for stoutness of figure proved rather embarrassing 
to the court of Queen Victoria. The hennaed whiskers of the 
Rajput gentry, while very chic in Rajputana, arc a striking 


170 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

incongruity to Western standards of aesthetics. The quaint 
African custom of distending the lips and ears by the insertion 
of loops of bone or pliable wood is productive of a type of 
beauty totally beyond our Occidental comprehension. Further- 
more, though our poets wax eloquent over the graceful lines 
of a swan’s neck, die Burmese belles (who achieve the literal 
effect by stretching their necks with iron rings) find our 
modern verse-mongers strangely unresponsive to their charms. 

It is difficult— perhaps impossible— for the individual to view 
life with any aesthetic standard other than his own. If it were 
possible to analyze the sensory organism that can see symmetry 
in the bound and distorted foot of a Chinese lady, one great 
mystery of aesthetics would be well-nigh solved. The gradual 
evolution of man’s concept of beauty seemingly depends upon 
both the power of observation and the sense of proportion. 
For example, the child recapitulates, in some measure at least, 
the racial evolution of which it is a product. Children, while 
fond of drawing, are generally incapable of recognizing per- 
spective, and among primitive types nearly all art is two-dimen- 
sional. When a child designs a crude little house the size of 
a postage stamp and draws a man beside it several inches high, 
it senses no inconsistency in the possibility of the man to enter 
the house. In a similar way the little girl regards her doll as 
alive and intelligent, although well-aware that its head is made 
of porcelain and its body of sawdust. Great battles are fought 
with little tin soldiers on a nursery floor, and both the little 
chinchilla bear and wooden horse are endowed by their juvenile 
owner with all the qualities of their living prototypes. The 
sculptor of the Stone Age, probably likewise unaware of the 
crudity in his technique, evidently viewed his art as a striking 
reproduction of the person or principle he sought to portray. 
When the mediaeval artist drew upon canvas faces which were 
as expressionless as eggs he endowed them, so he believed, with 
all the beauty and vividness of his model. The evolving stand- 
ards of symmetry, however, have outgrown his ideal, making 
the products of his brush now valuable for their oddity rather 
than their merit. Thus, while we are able to estimate the in- 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


consistencies of the past when contrasted with the apparent con- 
sistencies of the present, we are wholly unable to realize how 
inconsistent the present will appear in the light of future stand- 
ards. Some may still recall the time when Dame Fashion 
decreed bustles and leg-of-mutton sleeves for milady, and when 
gentlemen had the creases pressed out of their trousers lest they 
be suspected of buying ready-made clothes. While all admit the 
revolutionary changes of fashion, the mental process that justi- 
fies these changes and ridicules that which it previously justified 
is more difficult of analysis. 

The average individual believes that beauty in style is estab- 
lished by the caprice of the modiste and fashionable tailor, who 
find it lucrative to cater to the love of novelty innate in human 
nature. While this may be the superficial explanation for these 
cycles of change, the definite trend of the centuries is produced 
by certain psychological tendencies. In discussing such prob- 
lems of aesthetics as simplicity and complexity, a modern writer 
has arrived at some remarkable deductions. Simplicity has long 
been accepted as the chief prerequisite of beauty. This is defi- 
nitely opposed to the barbaric tendency toward adornment. 
It is reasonably certain, for instance, that clothing (except in 
the most frigid zones) is the outgrowth of the desire for orna- 
mentation rather than the dictate of utility. The theory is also 
now advanced that complexity is used to conceal weakness, and 
simplicity to reveal strength. 

The evolutionary trend of aesthetics is obviously toward sim- 
plicity, for complexity invariably creates the sense of discord by 
scattering the faculties of comprehension. Man originally con- 
ceived ornamentation as complementing his personal dignity; 
he considered adornment a setting wherein he might be shown 
to better advantage. Illustrative of the degree to which this 
element has eclipsed the personality is the story of two ladies 
watching a third go by wearing a very expensive ermine cloak. 
Turning to the second lady, the first remarked; “Did you see 
that magnificent cape that just passed by?” Thus, in the effort 
to be beautiful, humanity has become a race of mannequins, 
hopelessly enslaved to fads and styles which, if not actually 

172 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

detrimental, are at least unnecessary. Greek supremacy in 
aesthetics is based upon the fact that they achieved the objecti- 
fication of the beautiful while at the same time preserving 
utter simplicity. Never did they permit principles and ideals 
to become involved in complicated forms of manifestation so 
that they were even partly obscured. In Greek art the idea was 
ever apparent, and with the objectification of that ideal labor 
forthwith ceased, for beauty was recognized to be a principle 
so elusive that it invariably escaped if the means to capture it 
were unduly stressed. Apropos of this truth is the saying that 
it requires two men to paint a great picture: the first is the 
artist; the second, a near friend whose duty it is to shoot 
the artist at the psychological moment. 

The plea of Greenwich Village, “Art for art’s sake,” while 
it expresses a theoretical ideal, is often misapplied. There is a 
tendency to produce technicians who become so skilled in the 
manipulation of various mediums that they overlook the fact 
that all mediums are useful simply for the expression of an 
idea. The great artist is not necessarily a great technician; he 
is rather a man with a great idea. It is a curious, but never- 
theless noteworthy fact that those with the best knowledge of 
grammar and composition seldom write the best books. Those 
who become slaves to means or methods are prone to lose 
sight of ends. Words are sound mosaics which by their com- 
binations create pictures in the mind of the one who hears 
them. It is the ability of the speaker to create this picture 
in the mind of his audience that is of prime importance. His 
greatness is measured by the sublimity of that picture. 

What words are to the orator, pigments are to the artist. 
Through their infinite combinations eternal and intangible 
verities are expressed in a language comprehensible to the 
understanding soul. All the arts and sciences are such mediums 
of expression, fulfilling their purpose when they are developed 
not for their own sake but for the sake of those inner con- 
victions which through them alone can be shadowed forth to 
become an impulse or urge in the external life. It is his own 
shortsightedness which invariably thwarts the ends of the tech- 

The Mission op Aesthetics 


nician. A certain thrill which accompanies the possession of an 
intricate and adequate mechanism of expression has a tendency 
to fascinate the mind and hold it as in a hypnotic spell. The 
fact that words, like colors, are susceptible of such a variety of 
combinations often intrigues the mind from pursuit of an ideal 
to lose itself in the maze of approaches to that ideal. The 
desirable knowledge of method is thus acquired, but the chief 
purpose has been frustrated: namely, arrival at the true goal. 
The result is a wasted life in the sense that self-expression has 
failed to be objectified. To the ancients, the arts and sciences 
were all sacred to the gods, and upon being admitted to appren- 
ticeship the future craftsman dedicated whatever proficiency he 
might later acquire therein to the service or expression of 
eternal truths. Man studied that he might not only learn but 
that he might use intelligently. And what may be termed in- 
telligent use? The answer is: a use that is beautiful, virtuous, 
and necessary, since these are the true characteristics of Divinity; 
for God was regarded as the most beautiful, the most virtuous, 
and the most necessary of all things. 

In its truest sense, therefore, aesthetics may be considered a 
philosophic discipline by which the consciousness of man is 
equipped to estimate the degree of beauty, the degree of virtue, 
and the degree of utility inherent in the nature of an object; 
also the power to discern how these qualities may be increased 
to ultimate perfection. The first work is to establish the nature 
of beauty, virtue, and utility in their most comprehensible sense. 
Before beauty is cognizable in other than its transitory and in- 
consequential sense, the consciousness must be elevated to that 
level of rationality on which the principle of beauty exists, dis- 
sociated from the clumsy efforts of man to express its qualities. 
Upon the basis that only the beautiful is capable of recognizing 
the beautiful, the assumption of the philosophic life is regarded 
as indispensable to the recognition of the aesthetics of Divinity. 

Socrates would have conceived beauty as expressing itself 
in the social fabric as utility and in the moral fabric as virtue. 
To be beautiful is the natural state of all that is good, in that 
good must manifest good; and beauty most adequately ex- 

174 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

presses, and is the inevitable attribute of the good. One of the 
primary axioms of geometry — that things which are equal to 
the same thing are equal to each other— may be profitably ap- 
plied to this Socratic triad. So, in answer to the question, 
What is the most beautiful of all things? philosophy says that 
which is the most virtuous and the most necessary. What is the 
most virtuous of all things? That which is the most beautiful 
and the most necessary. What is the most necessary of all 
things? That which is the most beautiful and the most 

The truth of these assumptions is self-evident. Never has the 
world realized more clearly the utilitarian value of beauty or 
how necessary virtue is to the survival of the whole. Much of 
the crassness with which modern civilization is cursed has 
resulted from the divorce of beauty and utility, in which the 
spirit of aesthetics has been sacrificed to what we foolishly term 
the “practical.” Some years ago I visited a state prison, and 
upon being taken into that section reserved for those com- 
monly called “lifers” I was struck with the pathetic effort of 
the convicts to preserve the spirit of beauty behind the drab 
stone walls of their penal institution. The men had built 
little wooden flower boxes, fastening them to the foot of the 
grating of their cell doors. In these boxes were planted creep- 
ing vines which, growing upward, entwined themselves about 
the gratings and made of the iron bars a trellis. Also in the 
tenement districts of large cities where thousands are huddled 
together in an atmosphere of squalor and vice, the little potted 
geranium on the fire escape is a familiar spectacle, bearing 
witness to that spark of aesthetics which the Lord of the Whole 
hid deep within each human heart. 

Although to a certain degree an intangible asset, beauty is 
the molding factor in racial and national life. As long as the 
spirit of the beautiful shines forth through the bodily structure 
of peoples and institutions, these increase in power and glory; 
but when aesthetics dies, the very structure of society deteriorates 
and begins its march toward inevitable oblivion. Beauty is a 
soul quality, and like the soul is visible only in its tincturing 

The Mission op Aesthetics 


effect upon its immediate environment. When life is actuated 
by the spirit of the beautiful, the entire organism — social as well 
as individual — ^is the beneficiary of a definite grace and charm 
which render a relatively imperfect body not only endurable 
but even attractive. It is not given that all human beings 
should have beauty or symmetry of form and features. As we 
pass through the Hall of Fame where the likenesses of the 
world’s illustrious are preserved for the admiration of posterity, 
if mere physical symmetry be regarded as the sole criterion of 
excellence many of these geniuses were but rude caricatures of 
men and women. Carved deeply in the marble of immortality 
we find the crude and distorted face of Socrates, a little farther 
down the gaunt figure and aquiline features of Dante, while 
from his niche stares great Milton whose sighdess eyes could 
yet envision paradise. More recent additions to the immortals 
are the lank and raw-boned Lincoln and the crippled Steinmetz. 
Why have the beautiful so often mounted to power through 
tyranny and oppression, while the deformed have nobly and 
unselfishly served mankind ? The answer seems evident. Beauty 
has regarded its own existence as a substitute for merit, and 
fascinated by its reflection in the mirror of vanity has therefore 
passed into oblivion. On the other hand, those erf unsightly 
mien have struggled for that transcendent internal beauty which 
has elevated them to chief place in the hearts of men. 

That man has a compound nature is difficult for most peo- 
ple to understand. In other words, man is not merely an indi- 
vidual; he is many individuals considered as one. With sim- 
ilar propriety we might refer to an army as a single entity, 
disregarding the fact that an army is really an aggregation of 
entities. The brain of man is actually composed of over forty 
lesser brains, each a specialized organ of thought. Each of 
these complete thinking organisms vies with every other to 
dominate the entire organism of thought, and through this 
competition of parts the compound mental attitude is estab- 
lished. Unaware of what may be termed the ethical code in 
the relationship of these brain parts to each other, man believes 
himself to be the master of his thinking processes, when in 
reality he is frequently the victim of their machinations. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Throughout the entire constitution of man there is a continual 
plotting for precedence. To a certain degree each part victim- 
izes its associates, with the result that the organism is a seething 
maelstrom of biological intrigue. In similar fashion the social 
order — which is really a vast body— may be likened to the fabu- 
lous dragon whose seven heads are continually biting at each 

While the interdependence of parts prevents an open out- 
break, there are few bodies in which even a comparative degree 
of harmony can be said to exist. The compound human or- 
ganism may be fair to gaze upon but this does not necessarily 
prove that the various strata of its microcosmic social system 
are on amicable terms with each other. The human body is 
one of many examples of the failure of the democratic theory, 
for nothing could be more tragic than the picture of man’s 
hands or feet liberated to work out their own destiny irrespec- 
tive of the welfare of the rest. Only because there is within 
each of us an autocrat who binds the various members to the 
accomplishment of its own ends can even a semblance of order 
be maintained. When it is further realized that this autocrat 
is itself capable of error (in fact, almost incapable of anything 
else!) we may better grasp the problem presented by the govern- 
ment of man’s functions. The wonder is not that man manages 
his affairs so poorly, but that he manages them at all! An indi- 
vidual whose own internal parts are so bady disorganized as to 
make rational functioning impossible cannot but reflect his own 
indecisions into the social order of his civilizaton. The codes 
by which he lives, being the product of his own internal dis- 
quietude, thus engender national and international friction with 
their resultant crime, war, and disease. 

Like individual power, racial power must result from the 
autocratic usurpation of authority by some figure — no matter 
how despotic and arbitrary— who grasps the reins with a strong 
hand and drives the whole toward the consummation of its own 
desires. Men like Alexander the Great, Caesar, Genghis Khan, 
and Napoleon, represent the personification of a racial urge 
which Nietzsche might call “the will to power.” These men 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


gathered up the belligerent elements which had previously ex- 
pended themselves in a guerrilla-like warfare of factions and 
directed them toward the goal of world conquest. While this 
procedure proved most distressing to the strangers without the 
gates who were its luckless victims, it alone preserved the polit- 
ical integrity of the exploiting powers. 

The moment cither an individual or a nation ceases to 
struggle against external obstacles, internal dissensions arise. 
As soon as the Christian Church stopped fighting the pagans, 
it began fighting itself. As rapidly as nations reach the point 
where they are strong enough to maintain an isolated individu- 
alism, they arc destroyed by civil war. It is sad, but neverthe- 
less true, that up to the present time conquest has been the 
only force strong enough to surmount national prejudices and 
cement them into national alliances. There is undoubtedly a 
certain relationship between this fact and the well-known adage 
that the devil finds mischief for idle hands to do. 

As the individual is likewise a nation in miniature, he is 
only capable of maintaining the efficiency of his separate organ- 
isms while these organisms as a whole are directed toward the 
achievement of a definite end. Though the lodestar of both 
nations and individuals, ambition has also proved to be their 
undoing; for, having outdistanced their resources, they were 
unable to maintain the positions they had gained. An ancient 
philosopher once said, “If you want to humble your adversary, 
give him power." Power may be defined as the privilege of 
self-expression. Only the wise, however, can express themselves 
and still be great ; the remainder reveal their own ignorance and 
thereupon tumble from their gilded thrones. To the question, 
what is the most powerful thing in all the world? the financier 
would answer, money; the general, guns and men; the re- 
ligionist, the church; the scientist, knowledge; the philosopher, 
reason; the mystic, love; the aesthetician, beauty. 

Money, while not inherently evil, has been the motivating 
principle behind nearly every form of crime known to man. 

Guns and men, as we know all too well, have become the 
elements of a gigantic destructive science which may hurl mil- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

lions of living things to a horrible death in order to establish 
a diplomatic technicality. 

The church, founded originally for the worship of God and 
the service of man, has now become an arrogant institution, look- 
ing with contempt upon those who supply it with the where- 
withall of its very existence. 

Knowledge has deteriorated until it is simply a dust-covered 
stack of dry and worthless notions. 

Reason has degenerated into debate, wherein minds which 
should be directionalizing their efforts toward the good of the 
whole, huddle together under the cloak of learning and mumble 
their absurdities. 

Love, the most sacred of all emotions, has been dragged 
from its lofty pedestal, and crimson-robed lust seated in its 

As for beauty, it has sunk to depths so low as to be con- 
sidered the vicarious atonement for irrationality. 

That beauty is a power is undeniable, but the magnitude of 
that power is as yet unsuspected. As the proper directionaliza- 
tion of beauty is a potent factor in the civilizing of races, so the 
misuse of this agency results in a corresponding degree of de- 
pravity. External beauty combined with the insolence of in- 
ternal pride produced a Lucrezia Borgia who, with a face as 
beautiful as that of a saint, poisoned without a qualm of con- 
science all who stood in her way. Yet it is written of Lucrezia 
Borgia that despite her surpassing beauty there was an intan- 
gible something about her which filled everyone in her presence 
with indescribable fear and loathing. Thus the internal nature 
is impossible of total concealment, and where the outer beauty 
does not complement the grace within the soul, an incongruity 
surrounds the personality like an intangible miasma. 

The warring segments of a personality, as has been sug- 
gested, can only be unified by a common purpose which will 
enlist the sympathetic co-operation of all. Right motive — one 
of the eight noble paths of Buddhism — can be made to unite 
all the diversified faculties and members of the nature and 
directionalize them toward achievement of the greatest good. 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


The consciousness that steadfastly contemplates only good 
through all its diversified perceptions may be said to have 
united its various parts into a pattern worthy to be designated 
beautiful. Co-operation only can be conceived of as beautiful, 
for competition must ever manifest as a grotesque absurdity. 
Only a propaganda-ridden world could possibly imagine war 
to be beautiful, and competition is merely a bloodless war in 
which the soul and not the body is slain. 

While contemplating the nature of the Supreme Good, the 
Neoplatonists of Alexandria also philosophized with rare lu- 
cidity upon the nature of the beautiful. Plotinus writes con- 
cerning the order of the beautiful as it emerges from the first 
Beauty: “And in the first rank we must place the beautiful and 
consider it as the same with the good ; from which immediately 
emanate intellects as beautiful. Next to this we must consider 
the soul receiving its beauty from intellect; and every inferior 
beauty deriving its origin from the forming power of the soul, 
whether conversant in fair actions and offices, or sciences and 
arts. Lastly, bodies themselves participate of beauty from the 
soul, which, as something divine, and a portion of the beautiful 
itself, renders whatever it supervenes and subdues, beautiful, 
as far as its natural capacity will admit.” 

Beauty, existing independent of form and as a divine prin- 
ciple, is likened to the fountainhead of existence, from which 
streams of beauty flow forth to permeate and beautify the whole 
inferior creation. Furthermore, the beauty of the inner nature 
greatly transcends the beauty of the outer, for the spiritual 
essences constituting the supersubstantial man, being more 
proximate to Cause, partake more fully of the nature of Cause, 
which is true Beauty. Hence, as Plotinus also observes, there 
are those who “on perceiving the forms of gods or daemons, 
no longer esteem the fairest of corporeal forms.” 

The quest of the truly beautiful is therefore identical with 
the quest of Self, for Self in its perfect and universalized sense 
— the all-pervading Consciousness postulated by the sage — is the 
perfect source of all beauty and therefore partakes in perfect 
measure of all that which is manifested from itself. That this 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

supreme truth was taught by the sacred institutions of antiquity 
is further evidenced by Plotinus, who continues: “Just as those 
who penetrate into the holy retreats of sacred mysteries are first 
purified, and then divest themselves of their garments, until 
some one, by such a process, having dismissed everything for- 
eign from the God, by himself alone, beholds the solitary prin- 
ciple of the universe, sincere, simple, and pure, from which all 
things depend, and to whose transcendent perfections the eyes 
of all intelligent natures are directed, as the proper causes of 
being, life, and intelligence. M 

The Neoplatonists did not confine themselves solely to a 
theoretical consideration of mystical truths; they deemed it also 
essential that the disciple learn to actually partake of the veri- 
ties disclosed by intellectual contemplation. If perfect beauty 
was synonymous with perfect good, then the achievement of 
perfect participation in its effulgence was of first importance. 
As the ephemeral beauties of the outer (or material) world 
were sensed chiefly through the eyes, so the eternal beauties of 
the inner (or spiritual) world could only be sensed through a 
mystical perception which they termed the “eye of the soul.” 
“We must enter deep into ourselves,” again says Plotinus, “and 
leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look 
back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense. For it is 
necessary that whoever beholds this beauty should withdraw 
his view from the fairest corporeal forms, and convinced that 
these are nothing more than images, vestiges, and shadows of 
beauty, should eagerly soar to the fair original from which they 
are derived. For he who rushes to these lower beauties, as if 
grasping realities where they are only like beautiful images ap- 
pearing in water, will doubtless, like him in the fable, by 
stretching after the shadow, sink into the lake and disappear. 
For by thus embracing and adhering to corporeal forms he is 
precipitated, not so much in his body as in his soul, into pro- 
found and horrid darkness; and thus blind, like those in the 
infernal regions, converses only with phantoms, deprived of the 
perception of what is real and true.” 

While the Alexandrian mystics shared the Oriental attitude 
concerning the attainment of Reality through rejection of the 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


illusions of sense, they had more definite conclusions as to the 
method whereby the Causal Beauty was to be realized. Their 
instructions read thus: “Recall your thoughts inward, and if, 
while contemplating yourself, you do not perceive yourself 
beautiful, imitate the sculptor; who, when he desires a beautiful 
statue cuts away what is superfluous, smooths and polishes what 
is rough, and never desists until he has given it all the beauty 
his art is able to effect. In this manner must you proceed, by 
lopping what is luxuriant, directing what is oblique, and by 
purgation illustrating what is obscure; and so continue to polish 
and beautify your statue until the divine splendor of Virtue 
shines upon you, and Temperance, seated in pure and holy 
majesty, rises to your view.” 

To the ancients aesthetics was not only the science of beauty, 
but that discipline whereby each individual in his quest for 
truth might elevate his own level of functioning so as to be- 
come luminous with the reflected light of Universal Beauty, 
and ultimately identical therewith. Two forms of beauty were 
postulated: that which is intrinsic to the nature of a body, 
and that which is extrinsic or communicated from some ex- 
ternal source. In man, for example, beauty was the natural 
attribute of the spiritual nature, but the material nature partook 
thereof only by reflection. Being a rational creature manifest- 
ing through an irrational animal organism, man has the capac- 
ity to recognize and estimate the excellence of order, symmetry, 
and grace. Even as that which is base finds response in the 
baseness of the material nature, so that which is beautiful a- 
wakens a pleasant reaction in the rational part. As Bacchus 
was dismembered by the Titans and his parts strewn through- 
out the irrational sphere, so the rational soul of man is scattered 
throughout the substances of his irrational animal nature. To 
the presence of this element of confusion is referable the inabil- 
ity to recognize or appreciate such soul qualities as harmony 
and beauty. 

The pleasurable sensation which beauty awakens in the be- 
holder was said by the Greeks to arise from an internal sym- 
metrical nature beholding an external body with qualities sim- 

182 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

ilar to its own. As the internal nature dwells in perfect order, 
it thus rejoices in order and recoils from disorder. To a certain 
degree beauty is order, and as such is compatible with that 
internal orderliness which inevitably follows the liberation of 
rationality from the disorganizing effect of matter. Beauty 
rejoices in its own nature and even the faintest shadow of it 
awakens a glad response. The infinite diversity of standards 
by which beauty is measured result from the various combina- 
tions of rationality and irrationality present in the soul. That 
which is beautiful to one is not necessarily beautiful to another, 
and yet beauty as a principle is common to all. We consider 
that to be beautiful which approaches most closely the symmetry 
of our own internal natures; and as the inner nature evolves 
more perfect harmonies we become more discriminating in our 
responsiveness to external stimuli. Gradually symmetry of 
form gives place to symmetry of thought, and the beauties of 
the inner nature are then revealed as surpassing the beauties of 
the outer form. 

The Neoplatonic theory of beauty may be summed up as 
the rationality of the beholder rejoicing in the evidence of ra- 
tionality in the thing beheld. Grace, symmetry, harmony, and 
order are unquestionable evidence of a rational consciousness, 
and we rejoice in this evidence to the same degree that we 
possess the ability to recognize them. That is most beautiful, 
therefore, which elicits most perfect response from our inner 
perceptions. Through philosophy we ascend from that beauty 
communicated from an external source to the recognition of that 
beauty identical with Source itself. Having ultimately attained 
through right thinking, right feeling, and right living to the 
condition of the beautiful within ourselves, with enraptured 
vision we can respond in perfect measure to the eternal beauty 
which flows from the inexhaustible fountain of the one Good. 

In the present century two great opposing systems of thought 
are struggling for supremacy. On the one hand is idealism, 
which declares that to be practical which is beautiful; on the 
other hand is realism, which asserts that to be beautiful which 
is practical. It is difficult to estimate the profound effect caused 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


by this simple interchange of the words practical and beautiful. 
Practicality must be interpreted to imply the greatest good to 
the greatest number, and there is no question that, if so in- 
terpreted, that which is of the greatest good to the greatest 
number is the beautiful necessity. However, we may well ask 
if what we now term practical is actually fulfilling this ideal. 
Much of the structure of modern civilization is revolting to the 
finer sentiments of humanity. Elbert Hubbard can hardly be 
censured for defining civilization as “a device for increasing 
human ills; a machine for the perpetuation of the weak; an 
ingenious contraption for spreading disease and hunger.” Men 
and women of vision all realize that modern civilization is 
doomed to collapse under the weight of its own infirmities. 
Like the mighty Juggernaut, it is rumbling down the hillside 
of Time to vanish ultimately in the vale of oblivion below. 

The reason civilization must crumble is because it is not 
beautiful; and lacking the order, harmony, symmetry, and 
grace which collectively constitute beauty, it will be disinte- 
grated by the friction of its own individual parts. Like the 
scaled, fire-belching dragon of mythology, it is the jealous 
guardian of the tree upon whose branches hangs the Golden 
Fleece. Even today the Argonaut sets forth. Man in his quest 
for happiness— which alone makes life endurable— is deter- 
mined, like Jason, to wrest the highest prize from the clutches 
of the monster he himself has created. The future dragon- 
slayer is first born in the human soul as the spirit of revolt 
against the crushing weight of the artificial world which man 
in his folly has raised, Babel-like, to rival the glory of the 
heavens. Man has built a house whose bricks are made of mud 
and held together by slime. Indifferent to the laws of social 
architecture, he has raised this mighty edifice upon shifting 
sand, and now its walls of their own weight threaten to collapse 
about the heads of the foolish builders. 

Seated on their golden thrones the Titans of finance gaze 
down, like the huge stone Memnons of Egypt, upon a devas- 
tated land. Like the Pharaohs of the ancient Nile their sandals 
are pounded from the golden crowns of vanquished kings. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Wall Street may be likeneft to that gloomy ravine which led 
down to the depths of Dante’s Inferno. Here souls lost in the 
maze of their own greeds and passions wander in the dim 
light that finds its way down between the towering skyscrapers 
that rise cliff -like on either hand. Wall Street is a most ap- 
propriate symbol of the path of glory which General Wolfe 
declared leads but to the grave; for at one end of that short 
but awful thoroughfare lay the murky and polluted waters of 
the river; at the other stand the crumbling and moss-covered 
headstones of Trinity’s churchyard. There is a common say- 
ing upon the “Street” that those who succeed are laid away in 
pomp to the chime of old Trinity’s bells, while those who fail 
are found floating upon the turbid breast of the river. 

As one gazes downward upon the teeming world maelstrom 
of human endeavor where millions of creatures in ant-like con- 
fusion struggle to survive, with no time, no strength, no oppor- 
tunity to dream, to hope or to aspire, he can better sense the 
incubus of civilization. To what end all this cyclopean struggle 
in which destruction is ever the victor? As one regards this 
seething cauldron where, like the witches of Macbeth, the three 
sisters— ignorance, superstition, and fear— brew their poisonous 
broths, he cannot but recall the prophetic words of Prospero 
in The Tempest : 

The cloud-capped Towers, the gorgeous Palaces, 

The solemn Temples, the great Globe itself, 

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 

And like this insubstantial Pageant faded 
Leave not a rack behind: we are such stuff 
As dream are made on; and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep. 

When the Bishop of Ripon suggested to the British Associa- 
tion for the Advancement of Science that it take a ten-year 
vacation for the good of the human soul, this venerable church- 
man precipitated a storm of protest. “The very greatness of 
his [man’s] recent achievements,” declared the Bishop, “would 
seem to make his ruin more certain and more complete.” While 

The Mission op Aesthetics 


any cessation of man’s effort to improve his own status would 
undoubtedly prove disastrous, there is no doubt that the Bishop 
has sensed an impending catastrophe— that ever-widening gap 
between the spiritual and the material life of man. 

Man’s internal progress has failed to keep abreast with the 
growth of his conveniences. With the advent of the washing 
machine it cannot be said that we have registered correspond- 
ing improvement in our standards of beauty, ethics, and aes- 
thetics. The popular superstition that if the body is comfortable 
the spirit will take care of itself has not been justified by 
experience. Although too many churchmen wander in a maze 
of theological complexities, still for the most part they recog- 
nize the need of spiritual education. If his inner nature fails, 
man perishes; and while in the last analysis failure can only 
be temporary, still to disregard the sciences of the higher life 
is but to prolong the agonies of the unillumined state. 

The enlightened theologian does not desire to tear down the 
achievements of science or belittle the blessings that it has 
conferred upon mankind. The true spiritual thinker merely 
affirms the necessity of elevating the sciences of the soul to a 
parity with those of the body. He regrets that man should 
learn to live so well only to ultimately die as badly as before. 
Whereas, according to the theologian, man may live in this 
world but a few score years, he is predestined to endure in a 
transcendental state throughout all eternity. If he is willing 
to spend so great a part of his life equipping himself for the 
little span of earth life, should he not, argues the Bishop, also 
give some consideration to that greater life of which the present 
is but the vestibule? 

A just criticism against modern science is that as it mag- 
nifies by its repeated emphasis the importance of terrestrial 
concerns, it belittles in like measure the still nobler concerns 
of the spirit. Savants are too prone to solve the problem of the 
after-death state by disdainfully rejecting the conceftf of immor- 
tality as but another survival of primitive superstition. Thus 
the day of greatest physical light bids fair to become the day 
of greatest spiritual darkness. It is questionable if science will 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

ever be able to make the earth such a desirable locale that 
world-worn souls will not ultimately be glad to escape from its 
stifling environment. 

The goal of science apparently is perpetuation of the phys- 
ical life, which seemingly is the only life of which it is sure. 
Since woman is devoting more of her time to consideration 
of world problems she may be gratified to learn that one scien- 
tist assures us that within the next century babies will be manu- 
factured in the laboratory to meet any and all specifications. 
Physical immortality, therefore, may be regarded as the ul- 
timate goal of science, which can conceive of no other form of 
immortality. Thus, the modern scientist actually seeks that 
same elixir of life which he ridicules the mediaeval alchemist 
for declaring to be a reality. 

The church very properly opposes this so-called practical 
attitude, since if physical immortality be the real goal of exis- 
tence the universe is without integrity, for how can the dead 
past share in the immortality of the unborn future? The mystic 
also realizes the insufficiency of this new physical urge which 
worships a word and pays homage to its own achievements as 
summed up in the term practical. To him the word is a syn- 
onym for the prosaic in whose presence the finer qualities of 
life must inevitably languish and die. No sane man would 
block the progress of human thought or condemn any real 
contribution to the life, happiness or efficiency of the race. 
Men and women with vision would, however, rejoice if they 
could see growing up in the world an institution both vast 
and beautiful which would serve the aesthetic needs of the in- 
dividual, and would insure that life would be not only efficient 
but also beautiful; that man would enjoy not only health of 
body but be possessed of healthy emotions and ideals. The 
population of earth is sufficient to assure science that it will 
never be without a body of informed men and women to carry 
forward its ideals. There are enough also to form another 
group as strong, as noble, and as true to preserve those aesthetic 
principles which existed long before the dawn of modern 
thought and without which science as an institution could 
never have existed. 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


When by some joyous exception of Nature we find the 
scientist in whom the beautiful is an awakened and radiant 
force, there results a type of mind as constructive as any mod- 
ern society can produce. It will yet be demonstrated that no 
scientist can achieve to the highest in his chosen field until he 
acknowledges the existence of a superphysical nature which 
survives the dissolution of its temporal parts. Even as men in 
primitive times fashioned crude images and then bowed humbly 
before their own creations, so the scientist of today has but 
elevated his superstitions to a more dignified level; for having 
fashioned with his own reason the entire body of science, he 
now contemplates with an awe approaching blind adoration the 
craftsmanship he has wrought. Without doubt the prosaic 
attitudes of scientific men have done much to turn thinking 
minds from the contemplation of aesthetics to the more utili- 
tarian themes of biology and physics. Science has the unques- 
tioned advantage of tangible evidence of its utilitarian value. 
We are ever surrounded by the examples of scientific accom- 
plishment, while the accomplishments of aesthetics, being largely 
limited to the internal nature, make no showing impressive to 
the uncultured. 

With its emphasis solely upon the practical, the realistic 
interpretation of life over-justifies existing conditions; for it 
assumes that because deformity exists it must be necessary and, 
being necessary, it must be beautiful. Dr. Will Durant has de- 
fined the true offices of realism and idealism. Existing condi- 
tions, he declared, should be analyzed in the terms of realism 
and reconstructed in the terms of idealism. There is an ele- 
ment of precocity among civilized peoples today which is most 
unseemly; sophistication is everywhere. The surfeit of advan- 
tages which we have enjoyed has brought in its train the state 
of boredom. Nothing pleases, nothing suffices, nothing in- 
trigues. The race has an inclination to sit around and await 
dissolution as the one remaining experience that may contain 
the element of novelty. College youths finds it necessary to 
murder in order to create a passing thrill. Externally we arc 
simply over-civilized; internally we are morons. The very 
people who suffer most keenly for this chronic ennui, who are 

188 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

satiated with the entire subject of life, have never really ex- 
perienced in their thoughts, feelings or actions any of the more 
profound verities of existence. 

Turning from the sordidness of realism, let us look at the 
world through the eyes of those dreamers who have dared to 
believe that the good in human nature would ultimately blos- 
som forth and regenerate the entire social system. Beauty, 
declared the ancient philosophers, was the only offering accept- 
able to the gods. Furthermore, beauty being the environment 
of Divinity, God himself was present in every manifestation of 
the beautiful. In the Scriptures it is written that if the temple 
is built according to the Law, the living God will dwell therein. 
The Greek Dionysiacs symbolized the establishment of world 
harmony by the erection of a temple to the Unversal Creator. 
Upon the theory that like attracts like they philosophized that 
when the world was made beautiful, souls of the nature of 
beauty would incarnate to people it. Because of their belief in 
reincarnation, the Greeks taught that rational souls incarnated 
in harmonious environments, whereas discordant areas were 
populated with irrational creatures whose own internal discord 
attracted them to a discordant sphere. 

The remarkable physical symmetry for which the Greeks 
are justly famed is ascribed to a peculiar practice. Prospective 
mothers were isolated from the confusion of the community 
life and spent their days in secluded gardens filled with statuary 
representative of the ideals of grace and beauty. They were 
not permitted to look upon any asymmetrical object lest it 
mark the coming child. In some communities they went so 
far as to destroy at birth the crippled or unsightly. This was 
done not only to prevent the suffering resultant from such 
affliction but also that society might not through the sight of 
such malformations perpetuate that which was not beautiful. 

Much of our crime and degeneracy can be traced to home 
environment. Mystical philosophy declares heredity in its con- 
ventional sense to be a fallacious doctrine. We do not actually 
inherit the traits of our ancestors; rather, these traits are en- 
vironments which call into incarnation souls of a like degree 

The Mission of Aesthetics 


of rational development. A home in which dissension reigns 
attracts to itself a soul equally discordant. When upon reach- 
ing maturity such a soul exhibits the traits of its parents, such 
traits are erroneously ascribed to the previous generation by 
such as do not realize that each evolving consciousness has its 
own definite temperament and does not receive its tempera- 
mental bias from another. 

The collective attitudes of nations, generations, and races 
result in their drawing into objective manifestation all subjective 
qualities consistent with their own. When a nation gives itself 
over chiefly to problems of finance, souls who conceive money 
to be of primary importance incarnate therein until ultimately 
the entire fabric of that people is permeated with this common 
attitude. Souls in whom corresponding interests do not exist 
depart from such people and either appear in other races or 
else in anticipation of a better day resign themselves to patience. 

If we truly wish to beautify our present civilization we must 
realize the necessity of creating an environment which will 
draw into objective manifestation the nobler souls whose ra- 
tional faculties have been unfolded to a comprehension of the 
harmonious and the good. This same environment will further 
stimulate to rationality those who have not yet fully achieved 
to this exalted state. Philosophy was the dominating passion 
of ancient Greece and so intense was its attractive power that 
it drew into incarnation the greatest number of noble thinkers 
the human race has ever produced. If we would endure as a 
great people, we too must realize that as qualities increase in 
excellence they also increase in permanence, and that a civiliza- 
tion established upon virtue, beauty, and utility will endure long 
after the structures erected upon the foundations of finance and 
war have vanished from the earth. 

Today the philosopher in search of reality must retire deep 
into the recesses of his inner self and thus escape from the dis- 
cordances of the outer life. If he would think, he must depart 
from the mob which in its non-productive scrambling scatters 
the faculties of the mind and robs man of his most precious 
gift— the power of thought. It should not be necessary for man 

190 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

to leave the world in order to find himself, for his world 
should be a place where his true nature may mingle in concord 
with the true natures of all other beings. 

The sham of civilization is apparent when we realize that it 
forces the majority of people to assume false lives, to live in 
conflict with their inner convictions. The idealist must keep 
silent or be reviled; the thinker must hold his peace or be 
persecuted; the mystic dares not share his vision with the world 
which, though aware that he is right, will crucify him if not 
in body at least in soul. Hence, those with little knowledge 
babble continuously and their words become the laws of men, 
while those of nobler vision must remain unknown, unhonored, 
and unsung. Never can we rise to the true heights seen by the 
eyes of the idealist while we are in servitude to the inferior 
part of ourselves. 

Man does not realize the weight of that curse by which he 
was cast forth from the light of truth to wander in the dark- 
ness of his own making. He feels helpless in the presence of 
the vast industrial mechanism which has required centuries for 
its perfection and which has now assumed an appearance so 
formidable that even those who consider themselves its masters 
tremble and are afraid. Philosophy knows that before man can 
really live, the machine must go; and if humanity is incapable 
of self-emancipation it must wait until the mechanism grinds 
itself to pieces. 

It is predestined that the golden age shall come again; that 
men shall live together in love and understanding, and the 
earth shall become once more a garden of surpassing beauty as 
it was in the beginning. In that time men shall learn all that 
they learn now. There shall be great institutions for research 
and record; the arts and crafts shall flourish. But unlike pre- 
ceding generations this era shall not pass away; for the God 
of it shall be Beauty and where Beauty in its various aspects 
rules a people, that people shall remain as permanent as etern- 
ity. It is not necessary that we tear down the entire structure 
of our present system or revert to some savage type and start 
anew. It is merely necessary that we tincture utility with 

The Mission of Aesthetics 191 

beauty; that we add the soul qualities of symmetry and grace 
to the products of our schemings. 

Beauty is the deadly enemy of every excess, for into its 
constitution enter the elements of grace, proportion, symmetry, 
and harmony. A thousand means have been suggested by 
which the injustice of men may be offset, but all these must 
ultimately fail unless aesthetics becomes an integral part of our 
social fabric. Until the soul reaches that degree of rationality 
wherein it is able to recognize the supreme importance of the 
beautiful, it cannot withstand the urge of selfishness and greed 
which ever lure nations as well as individuals to their destruc- 
tion. When we love the beautiful as we now love the dollar 
we shall have a great and enduring civilization. When we 
adore the God of harmony as we once worshipped the God 
of vengeance, we shall know the inner mystery of life. When 
we create with symmetry, preserve with integrity, and release 
with joy, then only are we good. Never until we have become 
one with the good can we be happy, for happiness is the real- 
ization of internal beauty which joyously goes forth to mingle 
itself with the beauty that dwells in space. 


Man is ever ascending from an inferior to a superior state according to a 
which was established coeval with the foundation of generation. This law * s 1 
philosophic ladder which is treated more in detail in Chapter Seventeen. It is 
the mysterious Masonic ladder — that ancient symbol of the Secret Work. 


The Cycle of Necessity 

VJLTHAT relationship does the little life we know bear to 
that vaster existence which is our hope and which 
Rabelais would call “the Great Perhaps”? Three questions 
have ever vexed the rational faculties of mankind: Life is the 
beginning of what? Love is the fulfillment of what? Death 
is the end of what? The essential attribute of an enduring 
religion or philosophy is the rational solution which it offers 
to this threefold riddle. If physical existence be regarded as the 
whole of life, then the hopelessness and inconsistency of the 
scheme is apparent, for as Manilius writes: “We begin to die 
as soon as we arc born, and the end is linked to the beginning.” 
Hence universal order can only be restored when we regard 
physical existence as a fragment of a nobler and more complete 
cycle of duration. Somewhere in the chain of his speculation 
the philosopher will ask: Is the corporeal state natural or acci- 
dental to man? In other words, is man destined by virtue of 
inherent qualities to abide forever as a terrene creature, or is 
he— like the hero of that Gnostic classic, The Hymn of the 
Robe of Glory — an exiled prince seeking the way which leads 
back to his Father’s kingdom, the spiritual Dawn Land? 

Knowledge of the purpose of life is essential to right living. 
Unless we comprehend, in part at least, the order of which we 
are a minute but consequential part, we cannot achieve the 
greatest good here and now. The past and future like mighty 
trees meet overhead and shadow the present. The field of 
today's endeavor is bounded on the one hand by unborn to- 
morrow and on the other by dead yesterday. Our attitudes 
toward these opposites — the fateful past and the destined future 
—must be the measure of our present achievements. When 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

he says, ‘The present only is great, the past is dead,” the oppor- 
tunist little realizes that he himself is the past; for all that goes 
before lives again in that which follows after. The today man 
worships is but a fleeting second, yesterday was without begin- 
ning, and tomorrow without end; yet all are embraced within 
the span of the eternal philosophic NOW. From the obscure 
fountains of futurity the waters of time flow down through the 
turbulent cataracts of present endeavor to mingle finally with 
the boundless ocean of the past. 

All men worship either life or death. Philosophers worship 
life by affirming it to be imperishable; the non-philosophic 
worship death by accepting it as a reality. Being essentially 
incorporeal, life is not limited to place, but in the terms of 
Neoplatonism is “everywhere, not with interval, but impar- 
tibly.” In his Auxiliaries to the Perception of Intelligible Na- 
tures, Porphyry tells us that “things essentially incorporeal are 
not locally present with bodies, but are present with them when 
they please; by verging toward them so far as they are naturally 
adapted so to verge. They are not, however, present with them 
locally, but through habitude, proximity, and alliance.” Being 
free from the limitations of place (used in its Platonic sense) 
life animates forms by approaching them, and by its subsequent 
withdrawal into its own nature causes the forms to exhibit the 
phenomenon called death. In its physical sense life results from 
the temporary association of an incorporeal agent with a cor- 
poreal patient. Bodies, being corporeal, occupy place, and an 
interval exists between them regardless of their apparent prox- 
imity. When life which exists without such interval, animates 
form, an illusion is created which causes the uninformed to 
assume that life itself is subject to the confining bounds of place. 

Being incorporeal, the gods were not limited to place but 
exercised their azonic privilege of being distributed according 
to will throughout the entire substance of creation. This ex- 
plains the popular belief that God is everywhere and hence 
with equal efficiency may be addressed by multitudes in various 
places simultaneously. While life is essentially ethereal and in 
constant activity, form is essentially dense and static. In com- 

The Cycle of Necessity 


bination wtih form, life animates form to a certain degree; 
conversely, form is an impediment to the flow of life. The 
result is that physical manifestation is a paradoxical state where- 
in life appears less than itself and matter more than itself. At 
death, form reverts to its natural state of inertia, while life 
returns to its normal condition of uninterrupted flow. 

In his treatise, On the Wanderings of Ulysses, Thomas 
Taylor, drawing upon De Ulyxis Erroribus, the work of an 
anonymous Greek writer declares that Homer used the Trojan 
war as a symbol of the battle between the rational faculties 
(the Greeks) and the irrational faculties (the Trojans). 
Thomas Taylor notes that Homer is reputed to have been blind 
“because, as Proclus observes, he separated himself from sensible 
beauty, and extended the intellect of his soul to invisible and 
true harmony. He was said, therefore, to be blind because that 
intellectual beauty to which he raised himself cannot be per- 
ceived by corporeal eyes.” In the Thirteenth Boo\ of the Odys- 
sey, . Homer describes in veiled language a mysterious cave by 
which the Orphic philosophy concerning the mystery of life 
and death is obscurely set forth: 

High at the head a branching olive grows, 

And crowns the pointed cliffs with shady boughs. 

A cavern pleasant, though involv’d in night, 

Beneath it lies, the Naiades’ delight: 

Where bowls and urns of workmanship divine 
And massy beams in native marble shine; 

On which the Nymphs amazing webs display, 

Or purple hue, and exquisite array. 

The busy, bees within the urns secure 
Honey delicious, and like nectar pure. 

Perpetual waters through the grotto glide, 

A lofty gate unfolds on either side; 

That to the north is pervious to mankind; 

The sacred south t’ immortals is consign’d. 

In his essay on The Cave of the Nymphs, Porphyry discusses 
at some length the occult significance of Homer’s cavern. The 
gist of Porphyry’s conclusions, (which he derives from various 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

ancient authors— Egyptian, Greek, and Persian) is as follows; 
The ancients consecrated caves as symbols of the world in that, 
like the world, they were produced from an internal and not 
an external cause. The Persian mystics signified the descent of 
the soul into the sublunary regions, and its regression therefrom 
by initiating their mystics in caverns. As temples, groves, and 
altars were established in honor of the gods, so grottoes were 
also dedicated to the Nymphs, or Naiades, because of the water 
which trickled down the walls. In the seventh book of his 
Republic, Plato writes: “Behold men as if dwelling in a sub- 
terranean cavern, and in a den-like habitation, whose entrance 
is widely expanded to the admission of the light through the 
whole cave.” 

The ancient theologists considered caverns as appropriate 
symbols of mundane powers and of the sensible world, because 
these rocky openings are dark, stony, and humid. Furthermore, 
the dampness existing in the cave was analogous to the humid- 
ity of the world, which the Greeks conceived to be indispens- 
able to the generation of souls. The soul may be Platonically 
defined as “the first of bodies” and the individualized source of 
bodily life. Heraclitus says: “That moisture appears delightful 
and not deadly to souls.” The etheric humidity which incar- 
nating souls find indispensable to their body-building processes 
caused the philosophers to declare that these souls must be 
profoundly steeped or drenched in moisture as they enter into 
the sphere of generation. But pure souls do not desire to gen- 
erate and hence absent themselves from the sphere of humidity, 
which causes Heraclitus to remark: “A dry soul is the wisest.” 

Porphyry then declares that souls proceeding into genera- 
tion and enveloped in this ethereal mosture are properly called 
Naiades. The Naiades are Nymphs, presumably water spirits, 
and their esoteric meaning as given above was revealed only 
to the initiated. The cavern is therefore a temple sacred to the 
processes of generation and signifies not only the world in 
which generated souls reside, but (although Porphyry does not 
bring out the fact) also the womb from which the philosophic- 
elect are liberated by the second birth. The bowls and urns 

The Cycle of Necessity 


which, according to Homer, are contained in the cave, are not 
only appropriate emblems of the aquatic Nymphs but are also 
symbols of Bacchus, and being composed of baked earth signify 
the bodies into which the corporeal souls descend. Here we 
have the vessels of various shapes which Omar Khayyam refers 
to in his Rubaiyat . 

Homer then describes the purple webs which the Nymphs 
weave on marble looms. The spinning of the web represents 
the building of the fleshly body with its arteries, veins, nerves, 
and muscles upon the shining framework of the bones. This 
is the garment with which the incarnating soul is to be invested 
but which, alas, is to prove a net to ensnare and hold captive 
the rational virtues. The heavens arc called a veil by the an- 
cients, by whom they are regarded as the vestments of the 
celestial gods. 

The honey which the busy bees store away in the bowls 
and amphorae has two significances. Honey was regarded by 
the ancients as both a preservative and also a purifier. The 
Persians used honey in their sacrifices as a symbol of the pre- 
serving and defending powers. Honey further signifies mortal 
and transitory pleasure as distinguished from divine and endur- 
ing pleasure. In the ancient mythology Saturn, being intox- 
icated with honey sleeps, and while in this condition is robbed 
of his empire by Jupiter. This fable obscurely intimates that 
the soul is robbed of its divinity when it becomes intoxicated 
by the illusionary happiness of the corporeal sphere. 

Porphyry also gives a third interpretation to honey, which 
he declares was used to signify death— an interpretation depen- 
dent upon the previous assumption that it befuddled the divine 
perceptions. Gall he declares to be a symbol of life, adding, 
in comparing the two, that the life of the soul dies through 
pleasure (honey) but through bitterness (gall) the soul resumes 
its life. Bees (here termed the ox-begotten) are symbols of 
just souls entering into generation both because of their indus- 
try and because they instinctively return to that place from 
which they first came, for the just soul instinctively returns to 
its divine and unlimited condition. 

198 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In his Scholia on the Phaedrus of Plato, Hermias declares 
that the nectar and ambrosia of the gods are to be understood 
as possessing a profound philosophic meaning. He writes: 
“Ambrosia is analogous to dry nutriment and on this account 
it signifies an establishment in causes; but nectar is analogous 
to moist food and signifies the providential attention of the 
gods to secondary natures.” 

Referring to the gates leading into and out of the cavern, 
Porphyry declares them to represent the winter and summer 
solstices — Capricorn and Cancer respectively — adding that as 
Cancer is nearest to us it is very properly attributed to the moon 
which is the nearest of the heavenly bodies to the earth; but 
as the southern pole by its distance is invisible to us, Capricorn 
is attributed to Saturn, the most remote of the planets. The 
Orphic theologists add that Cancer is the gate through which 
souls descend into generation, and Capricorn the gate through 
which they ascend again, in that the north is appropriate to 
descend but the south to ascend. The north gate of the cavern 
is therefore said to be pervious to the descent of men, but the 
south gate is called the avenue not of the gods but of souls— 
the immortals— ascending to the gods. The ancients likewise 
connected the winds with souls proceeding into generation or 
escaping therefrom, declaring that the north winds aid genera- 
tion and refresh the dying, but the south winds dissolve life. 

But one symbol remains to be explained: namely, the branch- 
ing olive that grows above the cave. The olive is the plant 
of Minerva, and Minerva having been produced from the head 
of Jupiter is the proper symbol of wisdom. It was customary 
to place this plant over the gates and arches to signify that the 
universe (the world symbolized by the cavern) is not the pro- 
duct of casual effort or the work of irrational fortune, but the 
offspring of an intellectual nature and a divine wisdom. The 
olive is also the plant with which the victor in the race of life 
is crowned, thus revealing the mystic fact that he who van- 
quishes or outruns his lesser nature will be rewarded with 
wisdom’s crown. 

The Cycle of Necessity 


The Cycle of Necessity is the term applied to that period 
or condition through which man must pass in the attainment 
of conscious immortal ity—<onscious in the sense of illumined 
realization as distinguished from that immortality of which we 
all partake in common but which remains unrecognized until 
philosophic perception grasps its true import. In his pilgrim- 
age to the Holy City man must pass through the valley called 
Jehoshaphat or, the “place of dry bones.” Here grisly specters 
rise from their moss-grown sarcophagi to perform the weird 
gyrations of the Dance of Death. Every gesture of the irra- 
tional life is part of a ghastly pageantry, for the cradle stands 
within the open grave. Philosophy alone can bestow upon man 
the precious gift of immortality; for though every human soul 
is innately divine and beyond dissolution, it cannot partake of 
its own permanence without those perceptions which philosophy 
must confer. 

As long as man believes in death, there is no life; and what 
man affirms to be existence is actually the gloomy vestibule of 
oblivion. Buddhism became the faith of half the world because 
it assured man that death was but a dream and mortality an 
empty lie. The power exercised by Christianity over the 
Western Hemisphere results in great measure from its claim 
that for those of sufficient faith death has been forever van- 
quished by the resurrection of the holy Nazarene. 

It is not sufficient, however, that man be simply immortal, 
for immortality is merely the means to an end — the infinite 
opportunity for achievement of ultimate perfection. It is not 
sufficient that man go on living after he is dead, for this would 
only perpetuate on a more attenuated sphere the miseries of 
his present state. Nor is it reasonable to presume that the 
phenomenon of death can produce any definite cultural results. 
Theology fails to interest the modern mind because it postulates 
an after-death state which is but small improvement over cor- 
poreal conditions. What shall it profit a man if he leave a static 
earth to wander around in a static heaven ? Yet philosophically, 
theology is nearly correct in its depiction of the so-called cel- 
estial state, for heaven is an attenuated earth where life con- 

200 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tinues on practically the same ethical and aesthetic levels as 
during physical existence. 

The mortal sphere consists of two parts: one visible, the 
other invisible, but both alike illusionary and material. It 
follows that he who gives up the illusions of mortal life must 
also give up the illusions of mortal death. So the philosopher 
who transcends the imperfections of mortal existence transcends 
also the corresponding imperfections of immortal existence. 
Heaven and hell are woven on the same loom and he who 
renounces the latter must renounce the former with it. Ignor- 
ant man may go to heaven, but his heaven— like his earth— is 
inconsequential. The heaven whose praises are so often sung 
is designed primarily to augment the comfort of the animal 
man, to cause only pleasing reactions in the emotional nature 
and afford expression for desires and impulses which have their 
origin in the irrational soul. It therefore follows that it is an 
animal paradise and becomes insufficient the moment the ra- 
tional soul in man is liberated from its bondage to bestial 

Among the ancient Vikings, for example, heaven was re- 
garded as a hall of gluttony where heroes gorged themselves 
from a magic larder which ever replenished itself. Heaven, 
moreover, even co-operated with the feasters by making appe- 
tites more and more insatiable, the warriors only leaving their 
feasting long enough to stage gladiatorial combats wherein they 
dealt each other mortal wounds which healed immediately. 
It is evident that this heaven was as much a part of the irra- 
tional sphere as the physical earth itself, for it offered but en- 
larged opportunity for intemperance and sensuality. Would 
not Plato who transcended the sordidness of earthly excesses 
also transcend a heaven which existed merely to satisfy the 
unquenched fires of animal desire? 

At the entrance to the Elysian Fields, where the souls of the 
blessed dead picked daisies and eternally chanted hymns to the 
deities, the Egyptians placed a great judgment hall built of 
rocks as solid as that of Karnak. Here Osiris, painted white 
and having upon his person more eyes than Argus, sat in 

The Cycle op Necessity 


judgment upon the shades of earth’s illustrious, weighing their 
souls in a pair of ordinary scales. A jury and a motley group 
of immortals watched the proceedings with keen interest for 
probably the hundred millionth time. Does not such a picture 
afford ample evidence that man’s ignorance, unaffected by such 
episodes as birth and death, continues until the advent of ra- 
tional consciousness? 

At this stage a logical subject for speculation is what hap- 
pens to an individual who, believing in the reality of the theo- 
logical heaven, starts out after death in search of the pearly 
gates and golden streets. Docs their nonexistence disappoint 
him? Philosophy answers no, for as the illusions of physical 
life here are perfectly tangible and real to those who believe in 
them, so the heavenly city with its foundation of precious 
stones opens its imaginary portals to all who have convinced 
themselves that such portals exist. As surely as humanity can 
delude itself with the belief that there is such a thing as a rich 
man, it can believe that the gods are richer still and hence 
can bestow wealth untold upon certain favored dead. We all 
live in a world of make-believe, and as we pass from the make- 
believers of life to the make-believers of death we simply step 
up our imagination to a higher level and keep right on dream- 
ing, declaring that to be true which never had and never will 
have aught of fact within its fabric. 

Conversely, hell is simply that state which is created for us 
by our own realization of the fact that if the universe has any 
integrity whatsoever we deserve to burn for a few milleniums 
at least! Stupid fears generate our hells and inane wishes our 
heavens. In what manner would the plan of existence be glori- 
fied by having the souls of men roasted on hot spits throughout 
eternity because they broke some imaginary statute of the 
celestial code; or, in what way would the glory of God be 
magnified if more fortunate souls were given grandstand seats 
and permitted to witness the inspiring spectacle of the devil, 
sitting as high inquisitor, meting out perdition? 

When Parsifal, standing in the enchanted garden of Kling- 
sor, the evil magician, elevated the holy spear and traced with 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

it in the air the sign of the cross, the chimerical world of the 
sorcerer disappeared. The enchanted garden vanished, the 
flower maidens faded into thin air, the great gloomy castle was 
shaken and the liberated stones came tumbling down to 
vanish like mist before the rising sun. So it is with these spec- 
tral worlds— heaven, earth, and hell — which the senses have 
taught us to believe are real. 

With the opened eye of his rational perceptions the sage 
gazes out upon a very different world. First, with mortal eyes 
gazing upon the illusion are seen all those treasures which in 
our ignorance we have held dear. But gradually as the eyes 
of the flesh are closed, the eye of the soul is opened, and 
like a dream the spectacle of wordliness fades and in its place 
the permanent universe is revealed. The souls of men are seen 
passing back and forth through the swinging veils which di- 
vide the chamber of mortal existence into two compartments. 
Carrying the burdens of life, bent with the responsibilities of 
years, obsessed with the reality of matter, the tired and toilworn 
wanderer exchanges life for death. But as he passes through 
the veil he still carries with him the old perplexities of his 
mortal incarceration. We may see him still bent, still broken, 
still afraid, creeping through the tiny rent in the veil of his 
existence to continue on the other side the life he cannot cast 
aside until he rises above his lesser self. To him death is the 
promise of fulfillment. So he brings with him his empty 
money bags that they may be filled; he seeks the waters of 
Lethe where resting in that state of forgetfulness of all that en- 
genders sorrow he seeks to assuage the aching of his heart, 
still the spinning wheels of his mind, and realize thwarted 

The invisible world gradually assumes the appearance of 
the office where he labored during the years of earth life. Still 
the ticker sounds in his ear, telephones ring, and vast projects 
torment his tired mind with their complexities. A little while 
and this soul drifts into a great vortex of endeavors, vain strug- 
gles, and loosened passions. Like a mighty whirlwind his soul 
in company with the souls of millions is swept about in hope- 

The Cycle of Necessity 


less confusion in the after-death chamber. The sighing of the 
wind is the mourning of deluded souls. Suddenly the curtains 
begin to sway and through them sweeps the torrent of air back 
into the world of the living. A little child creeps through a 
tiny rent and burdened still with the affairs of life crawls into 
mortal existence. The years pass and the child again becomes 
a man. Still the tickers sound, still the struggle for gain goes 
on, again the back is bent by responsibilities, the life soured by 
unfulfilled desire until at last, carrying with him the same pos- 
sessions that bowed his back before, the soul creeps away again 
to rest. Yet what is rest? Just more longing, more desire, 
more unrequited love. Thus age after age the Wheel of the 
Law goes round; age after age man comes and goes, bound to 
its spokes of agony, and this fools in their folly have termed 

All this the opened eye of philosophy lays bare; all this the 
sage perceives with enlightened vision. He knows the unreality 
of heaven as well as hell. He realizes that both are but pro- 
jections in the substances of a more subtle element of the same 
impulses which have taken a beautiful earth and made of it a 
breeding ground of greed and a house of discord. Death is 
not a liberation from ignorance, nor is it a solution to man’s 
problem; neither is it the end of anything. Death is but an 
exchange of vestments; it is no cure for that sickness of the 
soul which the wise term ignorance. Back and forth between 
the chambers of life and death man passes until he wears ruts 
in the stony floor he treads. Yet he is never free for he escapes 
one prison but to enter another. With perennial hope he faces 
each new scene, only to find that he exchanges bad for worse. 

Birth and death are illusionary in that they seem to be a 
change of state when in reality they are but a change of place. 
Though man were lifted to the heights of Olympus he would 
not be greater than himself; and though he were hurled down- 
ward to the depths of the inferno, no virtue that is innately 
his could be taken from him. 

The philosopher realizes that these extremes are but illu- 
sions of his own mind and remains unmoved by either the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

sense of height or depth. Having mastered those attitudes and 
perceptions by which man is enslaved, he is free from life 
and death alike. He has found another door, so that he no 
longer travels between the two halves of the mortal sphere; 
but leaving the whole chamber of the world behind he ascends 
into that vast domain where walls are as distant as eternity 
and where limitations are measured by space alone. Therefore 
of him it is said that he has stepped down from the wheel 
and has broken the fetters that once bound him to necessity, 
for he has accomplished the necessary end: namely, realization 
of the unreality of mortality. He knows the import of the 
sage’s words, that though a man die a thousand times yet 
shall he live; for he himself has died many times while still 
fastened to the wheel of sense. Reborn through the disciplines 
of philosophy he is no longer subject to death because he is 
no longer capable of desire. Desire breeds death, and he who 
has liberated himself from desire has liberated himself from 
death. Ignorance and death — which are synonymous in their 
inner nature — are indeed the last great adversary. He who 
vanquishes this twofold monster by that power which is the 
inevitable product of right-thinking, has achieved conscious and 
enduring immortality. 

Life and death as we know them arc but passing phases of 
existence. This does not mean that the philosopher achieves 
to the state of physical immortality, for no one who is wise 
desires to live forever in any one slate. It means that the ra- 
tional soul, neither slumbering nor sleeping but forever awake 
and contemplating the face of Truth, has been so liberated 
from the limitations of erroneous perceptions that, though 
bodies come and go, it remains unmoved, preserving forever 
that unobscured vision and unbroken continuity of reflections 
which alone constitutes immortality. 

A quality characteristic of the gods is endurance, and man 
approaches to divinity when he increases the span of endur- 
ing consciousness. Physical matter must abide by the law of 
its own substance; hence to all things composed of physical 
substance dissolution is inevitable. As the animal nature is, 

The Cycle of Necessity 


philosophically, an exudation of the mortal substances, is ul- 
timately dissipated with the decay of forms. Consequently, 
he who has placed all his faith in this decaying part shall ex- 
perience mentally the blight of death for he shall behold the 
disintegration of that which he has pleased to term himself. 
If, however, he has established his rational and divine part as 
real, he shall remain unmoved when its inferior vehicle is dis- 
sipated, and because his faith is vested in Reality shall dwell 
forever in rapturous contemplation of permanence. 

Life and death are measured by our belief, permanence is de- 
termined by our consciousness, and perfect immortality is 
achieved by perfect realization. Strangest of all, perfect im- 
mortality is synonymous with ultimate dissolution, and of all 
the illusions that must go, not the least is the illusion of indi- 
viduality. Having completely mastered this, the last phase of 
death is conquered; for as long as man believes in individuality 
he fears that unknown but certain ultimate when individuality 
is dissolved back again into the universal state. It is strange 
but true that all the things man fears become the instruments 
of his liberation. Man fears the loss of individuality, yet per- 
fection is not attainable without it. Man fears death, yet death 
is simply the necessary polarizing of life that he may endure 
until he has learned to exchange the living death of form for 
the deathless life of spirit. If it were not for the opportunity 
that death gives us to go behind the scenes occasionally, we 
might become so obsessed with the dream play of mortal life 
that we would never wake up to its unreality. 

The process of alternating manifestation between the visible 
and invisible spheres of the inferior universe is erroneously 
termed metempsychosis. A swinging pendulum has been em- 
ployed to symbolize that monotonous motion of the unawak- 
ened soul which results in the phenomena of successive lives 
and deaths. In the East Indian classics it is written that certain 
is death for the living and certain is life for the dead; but 
though the wheel spins incessantly, by the very nature of its 
motion it ends where it began. When the philosophers describe 
the descent of the soul into generation they do not mean what 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

is now termed incarnation, but rather that the rational part has 
become immersed in the substances of a generated and generat- 
ing world where it must remain until through the liberation 
of its innate rationality it escapes from the tangled web of sense 
and circumstance. 

Pythagoras tells us that the sphere of Hades or Pluto extends 
downward from the Milky Way through the rings of the 
zodiac, the orbits of the planets, and the spheres of the elements. 
Pluto’s domain is therefore synonymous with mattef, not only 
matter that is physical but also its invisible counterpart from 
which the so-called invisible world is fashioned. The sphere 
of generation merely signifies that inferior pat of Nature 
wherein manifestation depends upon the generation of vehicles. 
Generation is limited to the world of forms in that all forms 
are generations, being the temporary vehicles of ungenerated 
and immovable “souls”. Physical bodies as we know them 
are generations in that they are the fashionings of an invisible 
agent who creates them for the peculiar workings of its will. 
The fact that the soul can fabricate a physical body is proof 
itself that the soul is manifesting upon the level of generation, 
and incarnation is that process whereby the spiritual nature 
establishes itself upon the level of generation in order to be- 
come the formator of innumerable corporeal vehicles. Having 
assumed the idea of generation, the soul is capable of gener- 
ating, and bodies are its generations. In order to generate, the 
soul becomes individualized and ultimately abstractly personal- 
ized. Therefore it is said arcanely that there is a continuity 
of personality throughout the cycle of incarnation, but this 
personality is the soul personality posited at the apex, or causal 
point, of the triangle of the generating sphere. 

The ancient philosophers affirmed that 777 physical earth 
lives constitute the incarnation of the human soul. Each of 
these earth lives is divided into a physical and superphysical 
part — life and death. Occupying the middle ground between 
the spiritual part and its generated vehicles, the soul hangs sus- 
pended from its own cause, and from it are suspended the 
physical personalities which manifest for a day, only to be 

The Cycle of Necessity 


dissolved by death into their primordial state. From this it is 
evident that the physical phenomena of life and death have 
little effect upon the spiritual status of the individual, for this 
status is actually measured by the degree to which he has dis- 
entangled his soul from the illusion of generation, and has 
no reference to the corporeal or incorporeal condition of his 
body. The true “fall” of man was the descent of his soul 
into the Cycle of Necessity or sphere of generation, and his true 
resurrection is the ascent of the soul to its former state of non- 
involvement. Thus, life — both before and after death— is simply 
an allegorical ceremony during which, as in the pageantry of 
the Mysteries, a curious ritualism is performed which recapitul- 
ates upon the physical level the entire story of man’s super- 
physical dilemma. The bodies shadow forth the rationality of 
the soul. While the idea of generation is upon the soul the 
bodies manifest the qualities of materiality. When the soul 
shakes off the drowsiness of the state of generation, the phys- 
ical personalities which it objectifies manifest in an idealistic 
and spiritualized manner. 

The consciousness of man is said to exist in three general 
states: in an unawakened state, an awakening state, and an 
awakened state. Those whose souls are wholly immersed in 
the illusion of form are declared to be asleep. Although they 
may manifest activity in the phenomenal sphere, this activity 
being of their outer and not their inner parts, is not regarded 
as an evidence of wakefulness. Such souls are symbolized as 
lying asleep throughout the span of life. Occasionally they are 
depicted as covered with cobwebs as symbolic of the weaving 
of their own fancies. Their bodies also are partly buried in 
that dust which collects upon all inert objects. This dust re- 
presents that inactivity which soon dulls the perception of the 
unwary, but which the just man shakes off by endeavor. Those 
to whom beauty means nothing, in whom there is no desire to 
better an imperfect state, who live but to gratify the appetites 
of the flesh, are the sleeping ones who, after passing unawak- 
ened through the span of physical existence enter into the 
invisible world, there to lie in rows still sleeping as they slept 
while in the physical world. After a time these sleeping souls 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

drift back again, take upon themselves bodies, sleep through 
another life cycle, and continue this procedure until finally 
innate Divinity, by the agency of some dire necessity, is aroused 
and animated to cast off its robes of lethargy. 

The second group — the wakening souls — are those in whom 
realization, while not perfected, has become an element in the 
cultural life. Physical existence has come to be recognized as a 
period of endeavor through which the divine potentialities must 
be liberated from the winding-sheet of matter. Through the 
periods of both life and death such a soul is consecrated to the 
attainment of wisdom. All change is regarded as fresh op- 
portunity, and with faith in ultimate perfection the seeker 
eagerly pursues the quest of Self. 

The third group — the awakened souls — are those who have 
cast off the graveclothes of limitation and made their escape 
from generation, exchanging the alternation of mortal life for 
the continued awareness of the inner existence. They are 
masters not only of the so-called terrestrial state, but having 
liberated their souls from the idea of generation they ascend 
to that truly incorporeal world where the soul is united with 
the true substances of its own being and where, dwelling in its 
own state, it is said to abide in a state of perfect felicity. 

Let us next consider the role played by love in the periodic 
comings and goings of the soul while in the state of generation. 
The law of the intellect is reason, the law of the soul is love, 
and the law of the body is generation. It follows that while 
each of these spheres is amicable toward its own qualities, 
when these qualities are combined to form a compound, fric- 
tion results. Paracelsus tells us that the elementals, or Nature 
spirits, live for hundreds of years because, composed of a single 
principle, there is the minimum of friction between their parts. 
To reason, established in its own essence and functioning ac- 
cording to its own laws, love is thus inexplicable; likewise, the 
physical nature, which is established in and exists through 
generation, views both reason and love as antagonistic. The 
plans of reason are frequently thwarted by the claims of love; 
and both reason and love are often overwhelmed by the die- 

The Cycle of Necessity 


talcs of the animal nature, though reason unfailingly reminds 
the latter of its own insufficiency. Hence, the inconstancy of 
human attitudes is primarily due to the lack of a common 

Plato defined love as the longing of diversity for unity; the 
desire of parts to be brought together to form wholes; the in- 
stinctive urge of all creatures toward a perfect state. Realizing 
that reality increases in proportion as diversity is overcome, the 
rational soul rejoices in the union of incomplete natures; for 
even the least perfect of such unions contributes to the unity 
of the whole. The same urge that first causes souls to come 
into generation and unite themselves with corporeal substances 
later causes them, after they dissociate themselves from cor- 
poreal substances, to rise toward and mingle themselves with 
spiritual Reality. 

As the essential unity of reality is apparently broken up by 
its descent into the sphere of generation, a condition ensues 
common only, however,, to such as have assumed the reality of 
diversity. Laboring under the illusion of separateness, the frac- 
tional parts function in the consciousness of isolation. Probably 
no feeling can sweep over the nature of man more terrifying 
than that which causes him to feel absolutely alone. This 
(doneness means the stiflling of all expression, Joy and sorrow 
alike must be relieved by expression; otherwise they infect the 
temperament with a curious disease which Robert Burton rather 
inadequately terms melancholy. This feeling of isolation is in- 
variably accompanied by one of utter hopelessness, for man is 
essentially a social animal. While his unenlightened animal 
sociability causes him to seek the companionship of the phan- 
toms of matter, still it is a necessary though imperfect expres- 
sion of that spiritual quality which will ultimately unite him 
with the whole order of being. 

Physical life may be likened to a gloomy dungeon where 
those convicted of “materiality” sit in solitary confinement, each 
in his own little cell. Like the prisoner of Chillon, who vainly 
longed for the blue sky and the comrades of yore, the soul of 
man locked in the life of form yearns for companionship and 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

understanding. In the Tarot cards is one called Temperance, 
showing a winged figure pouring water from one urn into 
another. In the Cabala also it is declared that Chochmah flows 
into Binah; that is, Wisdom flows into Understanding. As 
man at Nirvana inverts that bowl which he calls himself, and 
pours his soul into the Infinite, so throughout all the ages of 
his unfoldment there is within his life an inherent urge to flow 
forth and mingle with other lives in a mystical communion. 

The irrational soul is ever building walls which the rational 
soul is ever tearing down. The irrational soul is ever emphasiz- 
ing the intervals which separate living creatures, which intervals 
the rational soul annihilates by the realization that the divine 
nature can be limited by no place or condition. The mytho- 
logical “marriages” of the gods signify the union of a principle 
with its form, for the god is a creative principle and his con- 
sort is the vehicle of that principle. Thus when the soul enters 
into generation a mystic marriage takes place in which a ra- 
tional agent is wedded to the sphere of generation which is to 
be its vehicle of manifestation. At death when the rational soul 
casts off generation another marriage takes place in which the 
rational agent, having divorced its inferior part, is united by a 
symbolic ceremony to the sphere of liberation. 

Several philosophies differ as to the place occupied by sex 
in the Cycle of Necessity. Those who assert that sex is differen- 
tiated in the spiritual nature itself maintain an untenable hypoth- 
esis, since it is philosophically evident that spirit, which par- 
takes of the divine wholeness though containing the potentiality 
of diversity, does not manifest that diversity while in a spiritual 
state. While androgynous may not be the true defining term, 
it may be employed to express the undivided state of sex in 
spirit, where it exists in no form other than that of a latent 
attribute. This theory brings up the inevitable question: If 
spirit is inherently androgynous and perfect, why should it 
manifest through a vehicle less perfect in gender? The com- 
mon theory of a divided spirit, with the resultant quest of the 
severed parts for each other, has proved to be more poetical 
than practical; for unity, which is the primary attribute of the 

The Cycle of Necessity 


causal nature is destroyed if two complete organisms are pos- 
tulated as manifesting independently from a single cause. The 
modern woman, moreover, has registered in unmistakable 
fashion her dislike to be considered a subordinate or vagrant 
fraction of the masculine temperament. 

The secret schools of ancient philosophy postulated man as 
a twofold entity, which when masculine in its outer nature was 
feminine in its inner nature, and vice versa. In each sex, there- 
fore, one pole is objectified and the other subjectified— one na- 
ture facing outward and the other facing inward. Each sex 
possesses the qualities of the other, but manifests them in an 
inhibited degree. Human love may be defined as a reciprocal 
emotion in which the subjectified nature of one person is stimu- 
lated by contact with the objectified nature of another. Affec- 
tion is therefore an activity, both synchronous and reciprocal, 
in which the subjectified nature in one person flows toward its 
own objectified fullness in the other, while its own objectified 
fullness flows into the privation of its own quality; namely, the 
subjectified nature of the other. 

Among the secret instructions of the Mysteries was one con- 
cerning the law which is known to various schools as the Law 
of Consequence, Compensation, Karma, or Cause and Effect. 
That a principle flowing from itself must always act in con- 
formity with the laws responsible for its own existence, is un- 
deniable. For example, good must always manifest according 
to the nature of good. But as the flow recedes from its own 
source it partakes ever less of the virtue of proximity to that 
source, and consequently may exist in every conceivable degree 
of its own quality. Each active agent is surrounded by its 
own effulgence. This effulgence is the natural radiance of life, 
and “tinctures” according to the nature of the radiating agent 
all that is brought into proximity thereto. The agent may 
therefore be conceived as the cause; the inevitable flow of the 
agent in conformity to its own nature, the effect. Hence karma 
may be defined as ignorance moving in accordance with its 
own nature, and producing conditions in harmony with its own 
inherent state. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The doctrine that “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he 
also reap” is based upon the Law of Consequence — the inevit- 
ability of action following reaction and reaction following ac- 
tion ad infinitum. A vicious circle is thus created in which 
every cause becomes an effect and every effect becomes a cause. 
Here again is the Cycle of Necessity— a wheel of incident with- 
out beginning and without end. It is as necessary to step down 
from the wheel of cause and effect as it is to leave the wheel 
of life and death; for in the last analysis cause and life and 
effect and death are correlative terms. As life generates death 
and death generates life, so action generates reaction and re- 
action generates action; and to this sequence there is neither 
beginning nor end. Melchizedek, the Initiate-King of Salem, 
was declared to have been “above the law”; for karma has no 
control over such as are reborn out of the irrational into the 
rational state. Karma is the law by which irrationality multi- 
plies itself, perpetuates its kind, and ultimately dissolves all 
creation in a holocaust of retribution. 

Karma is the law of generation applied to action by which 
deeds are caused to reproduce their kind. It has been well said 
that laws are made for those who break them. This is partic- 
ularly true of karma, which applies only to those irrational 
creatures who, due to the clouding of their rational perceptions, 
arc capable of functioning in a manner productive of destruc- 
tive reaction. It is also stated that there is not only “evil” karma 
but also “good” karma. In the same way “good” karma is 
simply constructive action generating its own kind. But as 
action, both destructive and constructive, partakes of the illu- 
sion of matter— for action is the motion of material agents— 
so the laws of action ond reaction, like those of life and death, 
are dissipated by philosophy which, by annihilating diversity, 
destroys the field in which these illusionary elements arrange 
themselves in complicated pattern. 

Action is a dependency of place, for it signifies the flow 
of a life or condition out from self into not-self. Diodorus 
declared motion to be imoossible in that it depended for its 
reality upon the passing of a body from the place where it is 

The Cycle of Necessity 


into the place where it is not, and all bodies must ever occupy 
the place where they are. While this statement may appear 
ridiculous to the uninitiated, it is based upon the philosophic 
verity that life is without interval, and consequently incapable 
of action. For example, the processes taking place within life 
itself by which it generates form, cannot actually be termed 
action in that they are fourth-dimensional, coming under none 
of the recognizable classifications of physical activity. Bodies, 
however, existing in place are capable of rearrangement and 
of being moved about through the medium or interval in which 
they exist. Among the ancients activity was considered an 
attribute of form and karma its correlative. The philosophic 
discipline consequently liberates man from all the confining 
bonds of matter, elevating him to that estate wherein he may 
truthfully say, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain 
of my soul.” It should not be inferred, however that philosophy 
liberates man from the natural reactions of his actions, but 
rather that it liberates him from that sphere of activity which 
is productive of reaction. 

To escape from this vast turmoil of ephemeral agencies 
which we call mortal existence, it is necessary to discipline the 
rational faculties to the realization of permanence. In other 
words, the disciple must come to l \now that he is an enduring 
and imperishable creature entirely beyond the reach of demons 
dwelling in the darkness of the corporeal sphere. Like Dante, 
he wanders through an inferno which has no power over him 
other than the power he bestows upon it by acceptance of its 
reality. Though man be in the world, he is not of the world. 
That part of him which is fabricated from the illusional sub- 
stances is, like Caliban, but a grotesque and unruly monster 
which must serve the will of the enlightened magus. To know 
the actual relationships existing between the parts of ourselves 
gives the power to direction alize these agencies toward the ac- 
complishment of our own purposes. He who knows his body 
to be a body has a useful, if somewhat temperamental, servitor; 
but he who conceives his body to be himself has elevated a 

214 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

moron to power, and is destined to feel the iron heel of an 
irrational despot upon his neck. 

It is essential that the student of ancient metaphysics regard 
himself as a permanent and immovable point which from the 
exaltedness of its own dignity gazes forth upon the phantas- 
magoria of outer existence. Such a one regards his own bodies 
as shadows that encircle him, as planets encircle their sovereign 
sun. All his forms he views as something apart from himself 
for he is formless, and though functioning in a sphere of 
generation he is not deluded by his workmanship. Gazing 
upon the personalities he has objectified, he must say: 

“I am not they. They come forth from me to do my bid- 
ding and furnish the garment of my experience. They are like 
hands and feet which move at my command, and withdraw 
themselves from outer objects at my will. These shadows live 
and die, yet I am not born with their birth nor do I cease with 
their dying. Their coming and going alike are incidental, and 
have no eftect upon my solidarity. Immersed in the confusion 
of mortality these shadows experience the twin illusions of joy 
and sorrow, health and sickness, gain and loss. Yet if they 
gain all the shadows of possession and encompass the whole 
illusion, they are no greater than before; for the thing they 
gain is nothing and the thing they lose is of equal value. If 
one of these shadows rises to great dignity and becomes a ruler 
of all the rest, what is he but nothing ruling nothing? If in 
despair these shadows wander about, is not their despair— like 
their joy — but a dream which fades into the nothingness that is 
its essential nature when the dreamer awakes? I close my eyes 
and, lo, a world of phantoms is imaged in the nothingness that 
I behold. These phantoms engage in intensive labors, con- 
cerning themselves with the weighty problems of their dream 
existence. At last I tire of sleeping, and exhausted with my 
own rest I open my eyes. The empire of my sleep dissolves 
as though it had never been; the vast but ghostly enterprises 
have no more substance than those who served them. In the 
daylight of conscious wakefulness all the shadows of the dark- 
ness melt away, to leave in their stead only a vast expanse of 

The Cycle op Necessity 


luminosity. The many have vanished and the one remains. 
Instead of worlds there is only the I— the eternal and unchang- 
ing Self which dreams creation, and upon its awakening dis- 
sipates the whole.” 

But woe unto him who in his dream unites himself with 
his shadows and loses sight of his mastery over them; for he 
then assumes the concerns of his phantom forms. He struggles 
for the achievements of cphcmcrality; he seeks to build empire 
out of a dream, only to finally discover the senselessness of the 
fabric with which he wrought, since permanence cannot be 
fashioned out of impermanent stuff. Then the self is tormented 
with every problem of the not-self; the joys and sorrows man 
images become so real that the goodness of life is blotted out, 
and crushing despair broods over all. The wise live not in 
dreams nor in the world of dreams, but in Reality. They have 
opened their eyes and scattered forever the shades of night; 
they have left behind the trooping pageantry of incident, and 
upon the solid foundation of eternal and enduring Self have 
builded a destiny that shall not pass away. 


There was once a Daitya who desired to rule the earth. He grew so powerful 
that he stole the planet and carried it with him into the depths of the ocea 
Vuhnu, in the form of a boar, dived into the abyss and slaying the evil one resto 
the earth by raising it upon his tusks. 


Pagan Theogony and Cosmocony 

"p ROM the Greek mythology that had its genesis in the revela- 
^ tions of Orpheus and its efflorescence in the erudition of 
Plato, the Neoplatonists extracted a sublime philosophy. In 
his introduction to The Six Boo{s of Proclus on the Theology 
of Plato, Thomas Taylor writes: “According to this theology, 
therefore, from the immense principle of principles, in which 
all things casually subsist, absorbed in superessential light, and 
involved in unfathomable depths, a beauteous progeny of prin- 
ciples proceed, all largely partaking of the ineffable, all stamped 
with the occult characters of deity, all possessing an overflowing 
fullness of good. From these dazzling summits, these ineffable 
blossoms, these divine propagations, being, life, intellect, soul, 
nature, and body depend; monads suspended from unities, 
deified natures proceeding from deities. Each of these monads, 
too, is the leader of a series which extends from itself to the last 
of things, and which while it proceeds from, at the same time 
abides in, and returns to its leader. And all these principles 
and all their progeny are finally centered and rooted by their 
summits in the first great all-comprehending one. Thus all 
beings proceed from, and are comprehended in the first being; 
all intellects emanate from one first intellect; all souls from 
one first soul; all natures blossom from one first nature; and 
all bodies proceed from the vital and luminous body of the 
world. And lastly, all these great monads are comprehended 
in the first one, from which both they and all their depending 
series are unfolded into light. Hence, this first one is truly the 
unity of unities, the monad of monads, the principle of prin- 
ciples, the God of Gods, one and all things, and yet one prior 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The concluding sentence of the quotation establishes beyond 
all cavil the monotheistic foundation of Greek philosophy. In 
fact, to the discerning it is basically a philosophic atheism, for 
this Supreme Deity actually is neither a personality nor a prin- 
ciple, but the principle of principles, the most abstract of the 
most abstract, so universalized and unlimited in its inherent 
nature as to be incomprehensible. When such a deity is com- 
pared with the popular theological concept of a personal God, 
the supremacy of philosophy’s God is at once apparent. The 
God of ancient philosophy is the Deity whose sufficiency will 
yet be vindicated by modern science. Men will never outgrow 
the God of Plato, but one by one the Gods of creeds and sects 
will be driven from their thrones by the unfolding intellect of 
man. The modern world already demands the abdication of 
that despotic regent who has ruled the universe for the past few 
thousand years. 

The foregoing quotation also reveals how from this first 
and perfect unity infinite diversity proceeds in sequential order. 
Simple monotheism thus manifests through a complex poly- 
theism, and the gods are demonstrated as philosophically neces- 
sary to the orderly workings of the Divine Plan. On the sub- 
ject of the gods proceeding from the nature of simple unity, 
Thomas Taylor further writes: 

“For if whatever possesses a power of generating, generates 
similars prior to dissimilars, every cause must deliver its own 
form and characteristic peculiarity to its progeny; and before 
it generates that which gives subsistence to progressions far dis- 
tant and separate from its nature, it must constitute things 
proximate to itself according to essence, and conjoined with it 
through similitude. It is therefore necessary from these prem- 
ises, since there is one unity the principle of the universe, that 
this unity should produce from itself, prior to everything else, 
a multitude of natures characterized by unity, and a number 
the most of all things allied to its cause; and these natures are 
no other than the Gods.” 

The principle of emanationism as unfolded in the Orphic 
theogony became the vital doctrine of the Gnostics, who con- 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 219 

ceived a spiritual hierarchy as occupying each degree of the 
interval between the extremes of First Cause and Nature. The 
seven grand divisions into which existence is divided are termed 
in Neoplatonism: (1) The Principle of Principles, which is 
inscrutable and analogous to the threefold darkness of the 
Egyptians; (2) Being, the first point of the Triad of Cause; 
(3) Life; (4) Intellect, which completes the Triad of Causes; 
(5) Soul, which is the apex of the Triad of Generation; (6) 
Nature; and (7) Body, which completes the Triad of Genera- 
tion. Thus is revealed the order by which Cause flows into 
Generation and eventually produces bodies, the latter being 
objectifications in matter of superphysical paradigms or \rche- 

As certain monadic forces are thus suspended from the 
Supreme Unity, so this design of diversity suspended from 
unity is an invariable pattern throughout creation. Each item 
of diversity then becomes in its own nature a unity, from which 
ts further suspended another chain of diversity, and so on ad 
infinitum. For example, from the immense Principle of Prin- 
ciples as the Supreme Monad arc suspended the divine prin- 
ciples of Being, Life, Intellect, Soul, Nature, and Body. Each 
of these becomes, in turn, a monadic unit. From Being are 
suspended beings; from Life, lives; from Intellect, intellects; 
from Soul, souls; from Nature, natures; and from Body, bodies. 

It naturally follows that all bodies partake of the qualities 
of the principle of Body and are manifestations of it; all souls 
partake of the principle of Soul; and all beings partake of the 
principle of Being. The principle of Body exists throughout 
all the chain of emanations intervening between its primal 
manifestation from the Absolute and such bodies as stones and 
trees which exist temporarily in this ephemeral sphere. There 
are divine bodies, luminous and splendid; there are immortal 
bodies, transcendent in power; and there are mortal bodies, 
subject to continual evil and decay. The greater the interval 
between the principle of Body and the subordinate body sus- 
pended from that principle, the lower the quality and organiza- 
tion of that body. The world as a body and the worm as a 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

body arc both suspended from the principle of Body, The 
worm, however, is suspended from a monad far more remote 
from the principle of Body than is the world, for the worm, 
being part of the life of the world, is a minute part of the 
diversity from one of the countless monads suspended from the 
body of the world itself. Herein is revealed the mystery of 
Adam, for as Philo Judaeus affirms, Adam is actually the monad 
of mankind. Human beings therefore derive their human 
qualities from their participation in the nature of this prototypic 
monad. Thus from the Adamic monad are suspended the 
hundred of millions of individualized men and women who, 
when considered as a unit, constitute a single male and female 
creature— the first and supreme man, the idea of mankind, the 
Adamic unity. 

The theogony of Orpheus as set forth by Hesiod and inter- 
preted by Proclus is divisible into three major parts, of which 
the first (in the words of Rev. James Davies) is concerned with 
cosmogony, or the creation of the world, its powers, and its 
fabric. The second part, or theogony proper, is concerned with 
the generations of the gods, and records the histories of the 
dynasties of Cronus and Zeus. The third part is concerned in 
a fragmentary way with the generation of heroes, who sprang 
from the intercourse of mortals with immortals. Both space 
and the purposes of this chapter limit us to a consideration 
of the first (or cosmological) division, together with a brief 
outline of the generation of Cronus and the rebellion of the 

In the beginning, declare the Orphic fragments, was the 
Absolute — unborn, unaging, and undying Time. Here Time 
is conceived to be in a state of suspension; for as Time depends 
for its reality upon the succession of incidents, it cannot exist 
actively until the establishment of the worlds. Time is the 
perfect Wholeness which encompasses all manifestations as a 
mysterious intangible envelope. Within the divine sphere of 
Time existences live and move and have their being. From 
this inscrutable Wholeness there issue forth two agents desig- 
nated Ether and Chaos, or the Bound and the Infinity . Thus 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


in the terms of the ancient symbolism, "the One becomes the 
Two.” The first of these agents — Ether — is called the Bound 
because as a symbol of primordial activity it is limited as to 
place, condition, and duration. Chaos, which in some systems 
of cosmogony is elevated to the position of first deity, takes 
second place, when compared to the enduring Wholeness. Be- 
ing unlimited, unorganized, and without sense of Time, it is 
properly termed Infinity . 

These two opposites — Bound and Infinity — acting each upon 
the other, destroy the placidity of the eternal state. Ether, the 
active agent, is symbolized as a vast whirlwind which moves 
the surface of Chaos, and out of its unorganized substances 
forms a great ovoid, termed by the ancients the Orphic or 
Cosmic Egg. This Egg is usually represented as encircled by 
the coils of a great serpent (the Ether). The substances of the 
Egg, having been impregnated by the divine Ether, “increase 
from within outward.” The fertilized Egg expands and finally 
bursts asunder to reveal the Triple-Dragon God Phanes, who 
is called the “Divine or Absolute Animal.” Phanes is described 
as “an incorporeal God, bearing golden wings on his shoulders; 
but in his inward parts naturally possessing the heads of bulls, 
upon which heads a mighty dragon appears, invested with the 
various forms of wild beasts.” The point is also repeatedly em- 
phasized that Phanes, while possessing wings and a human 
head, is without a body, his entire being consisting of a vast 
ring of radiant effulgence. The ancient commentaries (espe- 
cially those of the Neoplatonists) identify Phanes with the 
Cherubim of Ezekiel and the composite monster of the Chal- 
daic-Egyptian Mysteries. The bull’s head signify the constel- 
lation of Taurus; the lion’s head, which Phanes is sometimes 
said to have, is the constellation of Leo; the dragon is the con- 
stellation of Scorpio; and the human head with wings upon its 
neck is the constellation of the god-man, Aquarius. Thus the 
four hierarchies called the Lords of Generation are set forth. 

In the Christian system these animals and winged creatures 
are ascribed to the four Evangelists to indicate that the Gospels 
are the source of spiritual life. The specially emphasized fact 

222 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

that the head of Phanes is without a body reminds the disciple 
that the lower or bodily universe has not yet become objectified, 
but remains as an unapplied idea of the first deity. Several 
early mythologists divided the Egg of Cosmos into an upper 
and a lower hemisphere, the upper composed of gold and the 
lower of silver. Similarly, in the images of Zeus the eyes are 
sometimes inlaid with silver to indicate his sovereignty over the 
inferior (or lower) hemisphere of creation. It is also stated 
that after breaking open to release the radiant Phanes, the upper 
part of the Universal Egg became the Intellectual Universe and 
the lower part the Sensible Universe. This is paralleled in the 
story of creation according to Genesis, where it is related that 
the waters which were above the heavens were divided from 
the waters which were below the firmament. The jnterval be- 
tween the two sundered hemispheres of the egg was called 
Heaven, and here the light of Phanes was diffused throughout 
the elements of the Intelligible Sphere. It is most significant 
that Heaven should be located between the extremes of Intellect 
and Sense, since its correlate in the body— the heart— is situated 
between the intellectual nature above and the animal nature 

Phanes is referred to as the “triple God” because he is a 
triad of powers, with himself as the principle, or monad, and 
Ericapaeus and Metis as his lesser aspects. As Phanes represents 
spiritual light and life, it is natural that his consort, or Sakti, 
should represent spiritual darkness, or the medium through 
which this light manifests. The Mother of the Gods was there- 
fore called Threefold Night, and she alone mingled in perfect 
union with Phanes, who is described as giving to her his scepter 
that she might in queenly manner rule his world. By right 
of her threefold powers Night brought forth two children, the 
first of her progeny, called Heaven and Earth. The latter is 
to be understood as a divine cosmic earth, and not the terres- 
trial globe with which we are familiar. One of the chief sources 
of confusion in the study of ancient systems of cosmogony 
arises from the effort to relate such terms as earth and world to 
our own physical system, when in reality they refer to invisible 
superphysical spheres — the archetypes of the inferior generatioas 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


which are to follow. The Heaven and Earth born of the union 
of Night and Phanes are the spheres of the noumenon and 
phenomenon which form such essential elements in the phi- 
losophy of Immanuel Kant. 

Heaven and Earth are then united in marriage, and in the 
words of G. R. S. Mead, “From their union arises a strange and 
curious progeny, the Fates (Parcae), Hundred-handed (Ccnti- 
mani), and They-who-see-ail-round (Cyclopes). * * * The 
Fates are the Karmic Powers, which adjust all things according 
to the causes of prior Universe; while the Centimani and Cy- 
clopes are the Guilders, or rather the Overseers or Noetic Archi- 
tects, who supervise the Builders of the Sensible Universe. * # * 
These were the first progeny of Heaven and Earth, and were 
cast down to Tartarus, for they worked within all things, and 
so, as evolution proceeded, permeated every kingdom of nature. 
But then, without the knowledge of Heaven, Earth brought 
forth, says Orpheus (Proc. Tim., Hi. 137), 'seven fair daughters, 
bright-eyed, pure, and seven princely sons, covered with hair;* 
and these are called the ‘avengers of their brethren.' And the 
names of the daughters are Themis and Tethys, Mnemosyne 
and Thea, Dione and Phoebe, and Rhea; and of the sons, Cocus 
and Crius, Phorcys and Cronus, Oceanus and Hyperion, and 
lapetus (Proc. op. at., v.295). And these are the Titans.” (Sec 

Under the leadership of Cronus all the Titans save Oceanus 
rebelled against Heaven and established the Material Sphere. 
Cronus became the ruler of the Titans, which position he held 
until Zeus, leading his giants, overthrew the empire of Cronus 
and established the Physical Universe. We are told in the com- 
mentaries that the last of the heavenly line is Bacchus, in whom 
the generations of Uranus, or Heaven, arc complete. In the 
Orphic theogony then follows the order of the supermundane 
and mundane gods, with accounts of the heroes and those who 
were elevated to a parity with divinity because of the immortal 
spirit that led them to the pinnacle of achievement. 

This sublime philosophy, which clothes cosmic processes in 
personalities and reveals by their combinations the wonders of 

224 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the Intelligible Sphere, has been debased to the point where it 
is now regarded as merely a collection of myths suitable only for 
the amusement of the adolescent and the dotard, or to furnish 
poets with the inspiration for a bare existence. Perpetuated 
thus in all its outer form in Bullfinch’s Age of Fable, the the- 
ology by which Plato lived and died is now looked upon as 
something outlived or as having overshot the mark. The 
Orphics, however, thought truly and wrote well. Their theol- 
ogy cannot die, but shall survive every device created to destroy 
it, and in a more philosophic era in the future shall shine forth 
again with splendor undiminished. 

It is now established beyond reasonable doubt that the Vedic 
writings of the Hindus were the chief contributions to the ex- 
alted structure of Orphic theogony. It is even asserted that the 
first Orpheus was a Hindu. A number of early Greek philos- 
ophers, moreover — prominent among them Thales and Pythag- 
oras — were initiated into the Mysteries of the Brahmans. There 
is also a legend to the effect that Osiris, the black god of Egypt, 
journeyed to that land from Asia, establishing in the Double 
Empire of the Nile his Mysteries patterned after those of the 
Brahmans. Whether these founders of philosophic systems 
were actual personalities or personifications of their doctrines 
cannot be determined definitely at this late period. It is not 
at all improbable that the journeys presumably taken by such 
demigods as Orpheus and Osiris arcanely signify the migrations 
westward of the cults of the primitive Asiatic Aryans. When 
compared with the Oriental creation myths it is evident that 
the Greek fables appear fragmentary and obscure; for the 
early Brahman sages were unquestionably the greatest abstract 
thinkers whose doctrines have survived to this day. 

That eminent student of Vedic philosophy, the Hon. H. H. 
Wilson, in a footnote on Indian mythology and tradition was 
moved to write: "As, however, the Grecian accounts, and those 
of the Egyptians, are much more perplexed and unsatisfactory 
than those of the Hindus, it is most probable that we find 
amongst them the doctrine in its most original as well as most 
methodical and significant form.” Having given a brief out- 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


line of the Orphic cosmogony, we next turn to the more ancient 
Brahman theory in order to make possible a comparison be- 
tween these two philosophic systems. The Vedic creation myth 
as set forth in the opening chapters of The Vishnu Purana may 
be summarized as follows: 

The sage, Parasara, discourses with his disciple, Maitreya 
(not the Bodhisattva), concerning Vasudeva (the indwelling 
radiance) and how it came forth to manifest creation. Para- 
sara begins his account with this prayer: 

“Glory to the unchangeable, holy, eternal, supreme Vishnu, 
of one universal nature, the mighty over all: to him who is 
Hiranygarbha, Hari, and Sankara, the creator, the preserver, 
and destroyer of the world: to Vasudeva, the liberator of his 
worshippers: to him whose essence is both single and manifold; 
who is both subtle and corporeal, indiscrete and discrete: to 
Vishnu, the cause of final emancipation. Glory to the supreme 
Vishnu, the cause of the creation, existence, and end of this 
world; who is the root of the world, and who consists of the 

Upon completion of his prayer Parasara enters upon the 
main theme of his discourse with the declaration that Brahma 
—the supreme, eternal, unborn, imperishable, and undccaying 
lord— first exists in the forms of Purusha (spirit) and Kata 
(time). From Purusha next proceeded two other forms called 
the discrete and the indiscrete. Thus primary matter, spirit, 
visible substance, and time, are declared by the wise to be the 
pure and supreme condition of Vishnu, which is Brahma in 
the state of quiescence. In his opening prayer Parasara refers 
to Vishnu (who, in the terms of the Greek Platonists would 
be the Power, or second person of the Brahmanic Triad and 
consequently its active part) as Hiranygarbha (meaning the 
Brahma who is born from the golden egg), Hari (which is 
Vishnu as the lord of goodness), and Sankara (or Shiva, the 
destroyer). Taking upon himself the capacity of Brahma, 
Vishnu becomes the creator; assuming the nature of Shiva, or 
Rudra, he is the destroyer; and in his true nature as Vishnu 
he is in equilibrium between them. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In a footnote to the description of the four elements com- 
posing the nature of Vishnu, Prof. Wilson states that the Puru- 
sha, or spirit of the Hindus, is analogous to the Phanes of the 
Orphics; Pradhana or primary matter, to the Orphic Chaos; 
and Kala, or time, to the Orphic Cronus. As Phanes consisted 
of a triad of powers, so Pradhana is declared to be endowed 
with three qualities in equilibrium, and to be the mother of the 
world. Therefore it is written: “There was neither day nor 
night, nor sky nor earth, nor darkness nor light, nor any other 
thing, save only One, unapprehensible by intellect, or That 
which is Brahma and Puman (spirit) and Phadhana (matter).” 

It is then written that the supreme Brahma of his own will 
enters into spirit and matter, and the season of creation having 
arrived, agitates the mutable and immutable principles. This 
is accomplished in an occult manner. “As fragrance affects the 
mind from its proximity merely, and not from any immediate 
operation upon mind itself: so the Supreme influenced the 
elements of creation.” From these equilibrated qualities pro- 
ceeds the unequal development of these qualities, which is 
termed the principle Mahat or Intellect. The creator then in- 
vents the great principle Intellect, which is termed Iswara, the 
manifested creator. Mahat then becomes threefold, and its 
phases are termed the threefold Egotism. 

The Vishnu Purana continues: “Elementary Egotism then 
becoming productive, as the rudiment of sound, produced from 
it Ether, of which sound is the characteristic, investing it with 
its rudiment of sound. Ether becoming productive, engendered 
the rudiments of touch; when originated strong wind, the prop- 
erty of which is touch; and Ether, with the rudiment of sound, 
enveloped the rudiment of touch. Then wind becoming pro- 
ductive, produced the rudiment of form (colour); when light 
(or fire) proceeded, of which, form (colour) is the attribute; 
and the rudiment of touch enveloped the wind with the rudi- 
ment of colour. Light becoming productive, produced the rudi- 
ment of taste; whence proceed all juices in which flavor resides: 
and the rudiment of colour invested the juices with the rudi- 
ment of taste. The waters becoming productive, engendered 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 227 

the rudiments of smell; whence an aggregate (earth) originates, 
of which smell is the property.” 

When the rudiments had united themselves with the prop- 
erties here described they assumed the character of one mass 
which, directed by spirit and with the acquiescence of the in- 
discrete Principle, Intellect, and the rest, formed an egg which 
gradually expanded like a bubble of water. “This vast egg, 
0 sage, compounded of the elements, and resting on the waters, 
was the excellent natural abode of Vishnu in the form of 
Brahma; and there Vishnu, the lord of the universe, whose 
essence is inscrutable, assumed a perceptible form, and even he 
himself abided in it in the character of Brahma. Its womb, vast 
as the mountain Meru, was composed of the mountains; and 
the mighty oceans were the waters that filled its cavity. In 
that egg, O Brahman, were the continents and seas and moun- 
tains, the planets and divisions of the universe, the gods, the 
demons, and mankind. And this egg was externally invested 
by seven natural envelopes, or by water, air, fire, ether, and 
Ahankara, the origin of the elements, each tenfold the extent 
of that which it invested; next came the principle of Intelli- 
gence; and finally, the whole was surrounded by the indiscrete 
Principle: resembling thus the cocoanut, filled interiorly with 
pulp, and exteriorly covered by husk and rind.” 

Vishnu as the principle of immeasurable power and the 
quality of goodness preserves these creations through successive 
ages until the end of a Kalpa, or period. Then he assumes the 
form of Rudra and swallows up the universe. “Having thus 
devoured all things, and converted the world into one vast 
ocean, the Supreme reposes upon his mighty serpent couch 
amidst the deep: he awakes after a season and again, as Brahma, 
becomes the author of creation. Thus the one only god, Janar- 
ddana (the object of mortal adoration), takes the designation 
of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, accordingly as he creates, pre- 
serves, or destroys. Vishnu as creator, creates himself; as pre- 
server, preserves himself; as destroyer, destroys himself at the 
end of all things.” 

228 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The Kalpa (or day of Brahma) is the period of manifesta- 
tion of a creation, and at the end thereof the Mighty One 
retires into himself for an equal period, after which he comes 
forth again in a new creation. From the method employed to 
calculate time in The Vishnua Purana, figures are obtained which 
are overwhelming in their magnitude. For example, each year 
of human reckoning is divided into two parts to signify the 
six-month periods during which the sun is north and south of 
the equator. These periods are called respectively a day and a 
night of the gods. Twelve thousand divine years, each year 
consisting of 360 such days of the gods, constitute a great age 
(or aggregate of four lesser ages called Yugas) by which the 
activity of the world is measured. A thousand of these great 
ages are termed a day of Brahma, and fourteen lords, or Manus, 
rule over this vast period. Prof Wilson estimates a Kalpa to 
be 4,320,000,000 years, or the great day of Brahma. The life 
of Brahma consists of one hundred years made up of such great 
days, or 155,520,000,000,000 mortal years. The last great Kalpa 
(which is called Padma, or the lotus) closed the first half of 
Brahmas existence. The present Kalpa (which is called the 
Yaraha, or boar, Kalpa) ushers in the second half of Brahmas 

Parasara then describes how at the beginning of the present 
Kalpa, Narayana (he who moves upon the waters) brought 
forth the earth and re-established the generations. It should he 
borne in mind that the beginning of a Kalpa is the reawakening 
of Brahma from his night of rest, and is not a complete crea- 
tion; for things already exist in a suspended state, in which 
condition they have remained through the sleep of the gods. 
At the beginning of a Kalpa, therefore, the creation is in reality 
a reorganization of already existing elements. It is written: 
“At the close of the past (or Padma) Kalpa, the divine Brahma, 
endowed with the quality of goodness, awoke from his night 
of sleep, and beheld the universe void.” 

Realizing the earth (in the sense of cosmos) to be concealed 
in the depths of the great waters, Brahma assumed the figure 
of a huge boar, as in previous Kalpas he had taken upon himself 
other forms. Thus embodied he plunged into the great ocean. 

Pagan Theocony and Cosmogony 


The earth, beholding his approach to restore her to her ancient 
dignity, recited a hymn in his honor in which she glorified 
his powers. The mighty boar, pleased with the chanting, emit- 
ted a low murmuring sound and then lifted upon his ample 
tusks the globe of the world. Filled with delight at beholding 
the trembling boar as he rose up dripping with moisture, the 
sages residing continually in the sphere of the saints sang praises 
to the stern-eyed upholder of the universe after this fashion: 

‘‘Triumph, lord of lords supreme; Kesava, sovereign of the 
earth, the wielder of the mace, the shell, the discus, and the 
sword: cause of production, destruction, and existence. THOU 
ART, oh god: there is no other supreme condition, but thou. 
Thou, lord, art the person of sacrifice: for thy feet are the 
Vedas; thy tusks are the stake to which the victim is bound; 
in thy teeth are the offerings; thy mouth is the altar; thy tongue 
is the fire; and the hairs of thy body are the sacrificial grass. 
Thine eyes, oh omnipotent, are day and night; thy head is the 
seat of all, the place of Brahma; thy name is all the hymns of 
the Vedas; thy nostrils are all oblations: oh thou, whose snout 
is the ladle of oblation; whose deep voice is the chanting of 
the Sama veda; whose body is the hall of sacrifice; whose joints 
are the different ceremonies; and whose ears have the properties 
of both voluntary and obligatory rites: do thou, who art eternal, 
who art in size a mountain, be propitious.” 

Quickly raising up the world the great boar placed it on 
the “summit” of die ocean, where it floats like a mighty vessel 
sustained by its expansive surface. Then “he who never wills 
in vain” divided the world into portions, seven in number 
(the planes). He likewise created the spheres of the elements 
and the worlds of the immortals, and prepared for the coming 
of organized life which was to blossom forth again spontaneous- 
ly after the Pralaya (or sleep of the great night). From this 
point Brahma concerns himself with the orders of mundane 
life and the reestablishment of his faith and order among men. 
(Those who desire complete details of the story are referred to 
The Vishnu Purana as translated from the original Sanscrit by 
H. H. Wilson, or the Visknupuranam in prose English transla- 
tion by Manmatha Nath Dutt.) 

230 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Whereas the Greek and Brahman creation myths are com- 
paratively well-known to scholars, the subjects of Chinese cos- 
mogony and theogony have received little or no consideration 
in the Western world. Hence in the study of comparative 
cosmologies we may consider with profit the Chinese doctrine 
concerning the origin and procession of the worlds. For such 
purpose no more ancient or venerable authority can be found 
in Chinese literature than the Yih King, or The Classic of 
Change, which is devoted to an interpretation of the trigrams 
of Fuh-He and which also contains a lengthy commentary by 
Confucius. Upon approaching this subject the student is sur- 
prised at the definite and direct treatment, reminiscent of the 
Greek style, that pervades the entire scheme. The purity, the 
simplicity, and the dignity of Chinese philosophy are a real joy 
to the Occidental thinker, as well as a pronounced relief from 
the involved and rambling procedures of Western cults. 

By way of introduction, the whole pagan universe is re- 
garded as being alive. Nowhere in it is death to be found- 
only continual change accompanied always by a certain sense 
of continual improvement and a hazy, yet intriguing, promise 
of ultimate accomplishment. It is unfortunate that Christian 
theology could not have perpetuated the magnificent pagan 
concept of a pulsating, vibrant universe instead of a world in 
which everything is dead except God in his threefold nature, 
man, the angelic orders, and a motley assortment of devils. In 
China there is a famous saying: “The living Heaven and the 
living Earth." The Rev. Canon McClatchie, for 25 years a 
Christian missionary, and a student of Chinese philosophy, 
writes: “Our Christian ideas teach us that the Heaven above us, 
and the Earth beneath our feet, are composed of dead matter; 
whereas the pagans one and all, have ever regarded these as 
Beings endowed with life, and informed by a living soul (or 
‘Mind’ as they generally designate it) which rules 2 fnd governs 
the world just as the soul does the human body." 

Western theology ostensibly postulates the earth as simply a 
mass of inert substance slipped in under a falling humanity to 
prevent it from dropping through space indefinitely. Not so 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


long ago theologians viewed heaven as a great dome with the 
constellations suspended like elaborate chandeliers from its 
inner surface, these lights owing their existence presumably to 
the fact that Divinity trusted creation so little that he feared 
to leave his children alone in the dark. Somewhere also in 
this most substantial vault was a ventilator or skylight which 
could be opened to permit the descent of the New Jerusalem 
suspended on four cables and a windlass. Invidious compari- 
sons made by Christian writers as between pagan and Christian 
theoolgies demonstrate the perennial difficulty of creeds to see 
the beam in their own eyes; for in no respect is the heaven of 
theology a worthy substitute for the heaven of pagan philos- 
ophy, and nowhere among the cultured pagans do we find a 
concept of the universe so hopelessly inadequate as that assumed 
by Christendom. To exchange the oppressive atmosphere of 
an inanimate universe for the sweep of that animate world of 
the Chinese, is to escape from the prison-house of sense into 
the larger world of mind and spirit. 

The unsolvable problem for theology is how the Creator 
could fashion the universe of things out of the vacuum of 
nothing. Such an achievement must indeed be ascribed to 
Divine legerdemain. Again, if nothing pervaded all eternity, 
then even the substance of Deity itself becomes a legitimate 
question. According to this theological concept, the Creator 
is a vast personality with abstract parts and members more or 
less, who in some unaccountable manner must have issued 
forth from the very emptiness with which he is enveloped. The 
element of rationality is nowhere apparent in the theory of a 
Creator who dwells alone forever in the void of nothingness, 
but who occasionally amuses himself by manifesting mud pies 
out of this nothingness, and then with childish fretfulness 
resolves them back again into the nothingness from which they 
came. The asseverations of the Church to the contrary not- 
withstanding, this primordial nothingness can scarcely be con- 
ceived of as a pliable or workable substance, nor can the pro- 
cession of universes said to issue from this literal vacuum be 
regarded as other than a miracle which would overtax the 
capacity of even the Deity. And yet the Rev. McClatchie 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

blandly assures us that “The Biblical student, for example, is 
aware that one of the most essential and important doctrines 
taught in the first verse of Genesis is the non-eternity of Mat- 
ter; but, in translating a pagan Classic, he should be acquainted 
with the fact that all heathen systems without exception assert 
the eternity of Matter, and that this is one of the most promi- 
nent differences between the Cosmogony of Moses, and that 
of all pagan writers. If Matter is eternal it must necessarily 
be divine and a God; and hence it is altogether vain and 
fruitless to expect to find, in heathen materialism, any Being 
whom it is not idolatrous to worship.” 

The eternal duration of Matter (here regarded as synon- 
ymous with the Absolute, and in reality man’s negative ap- 
proach to the Absolute) is philosophy’s answer to this dilemma 
of a spontaneous creation from nothing as maintained by theol- 
ogy. Modern science agrees with pagan philosophy that there 
is an ever-existing substance, the nature of which is as yet un- 
definable but which provides the common seed-ground from 
which grow the myriads of manifesting spheres. When the 
pagan thus affirmed the existence of an undying substance — 
Universal Root Matter — which after passing through an infinite 
diversity of modes ultimately returns to its primordial state, 
they established the Wheel of Eternity and founded the doc- 
trine of world transmigration. Far from being “nothing” this 
Universal Root Matter was all things, and because it was only 
capable of negative definition was termed “No Thing.” From 
this eternal Matter— not matter as defined by the physicist but 
rather as the ever-enduring, undifferentiated life — creation comes 
forth, and after manifesting the latent urges inherent in its 
parts ultimately returns to its primordial state. This philosophic 
Matter — the undefined Monad composed of an infinitude of 
germinal units in abstraction — offers both a rational and effec- 
tive solution to the problem of First Cause, thus leaving the 
mind free to contemplate the processes by which this First 
Cause fashioned the tangible universe. This hypothesis supplies 
Deity with the substance of his own nature, the origin of his 
own divinity, and the materials with which he is to fabricate 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 233 

The Supreme God of China, like the first deities of Greece 
and Egypt, must be this ever-enduring Matter to which is ap- 
plied the term Tien, It is the inner heavens in the sense of 
quality, and the outer heavens in the sense of quantity— the 
Universal Parent, the infinite capacity, the undifferentiated 
Cause, the ever-flowing fountain. From the nature of this uni- 
versalized divinity emanated the organized creation by an or- 
derly progression. To begin with, there came forth two prin- 
ciples called Airs, by which this universal essence opposes itself 
to itself, and in the field of this opposition establishes the gen- 
erations. These two, called Heaven and Earth, are to be under- 
stood as actuating Spirit and receptive Matter. Their proper 
names are the Great Father and the Great Mother, which to- 
gether form a vast anthropomorphic deity whom the Chinese 
call Shang-te, or the Sky Emperor, Shang-te, the heavenly 
ruler of the celestial empire, is revered through his positive 
aspect (Heaven) and is therefore termed the Emperor of 
Heaven. His descendant upon the earth, the human emperor, 
is called the Son of Heaven and rules by right of the authority 
vested in him by his Sky Father. In his aspect of Heaven, 
Shang-te consists of a triad which is termed Heaven, Earth, 
and Man. The third member of this trinity is the world em- 
peror who, as a sort of Platonic monad, contains within him- 
self all mankind. The elements of the Brahmanic system— pri- 
mary matter, spirit, visible substance, and time— have their par- 
allel in the Chinese Tien, Heaven, Earth, and Pwan-koo, which 
together are termed Shang-te, the Creator. 

As the Great Father (Heaven) consists of a triad of quali- 
ties, so the Great Mother (Earth) also manifests three natures 
which complement the three principles of the Great Father, 
resulting in what are called the eight trigrams or figures, of 
which Kheen (the Father) and Khwan (the Mother) are the 
origin. In the Chinese Cabala, Kheen, the active principle, is 
symbolized by three unbroken lines, and Khwan, the receptive 
principle, by three broken lines. These lines are arranged in 
six other patterns, called respectively the three sons and three 
daughters. In the more profound interpretation of this philos- 
ophy Chaos is the eternal Deity or divine Matter which causes 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

to exist within itself two Airs, one termed subtle and the other 
coarse. The subtle Air is spirit and its name is Yang; the coarse 
Air is matter and its name is Yin. From the intimate mingling 
of these two Airs all the phenomena of generation have their 

In terms of Platonism, these two Airs would be the rational 
and the irrational souls respectively which, as Confucius de- 
clares, are never discoverable separate from each other. It is 
possible, therefore, to divide diagrammatically the Chinese uni- 
verse into three spheres corresponding to the three worlds of 
Pythagoras; i. e., the Supreme World, the Superior World, and 
the Inferior World, all of which exist within the nature of 
absolute and unchanging Matter, which is both the first and 
the last, the unborn and the undying. Thus within the great 
Egg of Chaos exist three moving agents which are the spirits 
of the world. The first, which is synonymous with the will of 
Deity, is called Le, or Fate, and is the driving power that moves 
all things to their predestined end. The second, Wisdom, is 
Shang-te, which is referred to as a horse upon which Fate rides 
to the accomplishment of its ends. The third, Activity, is called 
the body of Shang-te and is ruled over by Pwan-koo, the Demi- 
urgus or Lord of the World, the Protogonas or First Man. 

Wherever Matter is considered to be an eternal element, 
and manifestation a periodic blossoming forth of the creative 
energies of this ever-existing state, we have the law of Kalpas, 
or successive creations. In the Chinese system the Yuen (Kal- 
pa) is considered analogous to the natural year, which therefore 
becomes its symbol. As the year is divided into twelve periods, 
corresponding to the months and the signs of the zodiac, so 
the Yuen is divided into twelve divisions called Hwuy, each 
consisting of 10,800 years. The four seasons become symbolic 
of the four grand periods which correspond to the Hindu 
Yugas, or divisions of life— birth, growth, maturity, and decay 
—the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Thus in the period 
termed spring cosmos comes forth into manifestation. During 
the summer the phenomena of growth and expansion take 
place; during the autumn the fruitage of effort is reaped; and 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


during the winter the retirement of cosmos into its primordial 
nature is consummated. The spring of the world is symbol- 
ized by the color blue, the summer by red, the autumn by 
white, and the winter by black. Four great kings or regents, 
corresponding to the four Maharajahs of the Brahmans, each 
painted the respective color of his season, rule over the cardinal 
angles of the heavens. In their midst sits the great “Yellow 
Emperor”— the Brahman Mahat or Intellect, the Mind of the 

The twelve signs of the zodiac are divided into groups of 
three to represent these seasons. The twelfth, first, and second 
signs (which are to the north) form the winter season, with 
the first sign due north. The third, fourth, and fifth signs 
(which are to the east) form the spring season, with the fourth 
sign due east. The sixth, seventh and eighth signs (which are 
to the south) form the summer season, with the seventh sign 
due south. The ninth, tenth, and eleventh signs (which are 
to the west) form the autumn season, with the tenth sign due 
west. It is evident that this diagrammatic arrangement, which 
resembles a horoscope, is a figure by which may be estimated 
not only the duration of world periods, but of every order of 
creation, greater and lesser. Thus the life of every atom is a 
Kalpa; likewise the life of man, the life of the race, the life 
of the planet, the life of the solar system, the life of the universe, 
and the life of cosmos itself. As will be noted, throughout 
all manifestation each of these Kalpas is a fractional part, in 
turn, of a still greater one, until at last time— which is their 
basis and indispensable to their existence — is so merged into 
eternity as to be incapable of further differentiation. 

Every twenty-four hours the whole cycle is re-enacted in 
mortal time. The smallest Kalpa may be but the fraction of a 
second’s duration, while the greatest may endure for countless 
milleniums. While in time and magnitude these periods dif- 
fer widely, still the diagram is a proper symbol of them all; 
for regardless of their magnitude all obey the same principle 
of periodicity and manifest the same general mathematical 
characteristics of form and progression. For example, the ro- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tation of the earth upon its axis causes one of the twelve signs 
of the zodiac to rise sequentially every two hours upon the 
eastern horizon, so that the twelve complete their revolution 
in twenty-four hours and thus make a minor Kalpa, or period. 
In its revolution around the sun the earth also passes through 
the twelve signs of the zodiac in twelve months, thus constitut- 
ing a greater Kalpa. Again, through the precession of the 
equinoxes the sun retrogrades through the twelve signs of the 
zodiac in approximately 25,000 years, which is therefore called 
a great sidereal year, and by which a still greater Kalpa is 
established. From such well-known illustrations we may gain 
some slight idea of the complexity of celestial dynamics as dis- 
closed by the principle of Kalpas. 

In the first sign (which is due north) the Chinese universe 
had its genesis. The Universal Power (Heaven) came into 
manifestation and a new day of wandering began. In the 
second sign the earth issued forth, and in the third sign (which 
is the first of the spring months) Pwan-koo appeared. This 
Kalpa then continued and the generations came forth, and 
through the spring, summer, and autumn months lived, reached 
maturity, and entered upon the inevitable decay. At last in 
the twelfth sign (which is the first of the winter months) 
came the great Deluge, which marked the close of that Kalpa. 
All living creatures were destroyed except Pwan-koo, who is 
the undying or unchanging creature. After a period of rest 
the new Kalpa was ushered in and Pwan-koo in the third 
period came forth again to be the progenitor of human life. 
In this lesser reappearance (in which the Kalpa of the earth 
rather than the universe is signified) the principle of Pwan-koo 
became Fuh-he, the first Emperor. It is said that the previous 
Kalpa was destroyed because of its wickedness, but the Arche- 
typal Man with his family— the eight diagrams of the Yih King 
—was preserved through the Deluge to perpetuate creation. 
We are informed by the secret doctrine that Pwan-koo is the 
Sky Man, or the Monad of human generation. From Pwan- 
koo descend upon threads (as in the Platonic system) a number 
of subordinate powers called by the Brahmans the Manus, or 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 


the First Men. There are fourteen such Manus to a great 
Kalpa, and one comes forth at the beginning of each round 
(or day of manifestation) and also at the establishment of each 
root race. Thus the Noah of the Jews is the Vaisvata Manu 
of the Brahmans. He is the undying man whose progeny 
gradually increases to the dignity of a race. 

In the present cycle Pwan-koo, the Eternal Man, came forth 
in the form of Fuh-he, the Manu, to establish the new human- 
ity. Hence Pwan-koo is Adam and Fuh-he is Noah or the 
second Adam, who preserved the generations through the Del- 
uge which marked the close of a lesser Kalpa. Fuh-he, while 
generally regarded as the first Emperor of the imperial line, is 
really an avatar or incarnation of the Grand Man. His color 
is blue like that of Krishna, and as Vishnu came forth at the 
beginning of his worlds in the form of a fish, so we are told 
that Fuh-he, the indigo Emperor, had the body and tail of a 
fish. A similar philosophic basis exists for the legends of Dagon, 
Oannes, and the fish -gods of antiquity; yes, even Jonah, who 
in the third sign (or period) was cast out of the whale’s belly. 

An analysis of these various cosmological and theogonic 
systems shows the ancient pagan philosophers to have been uni- 
fied in their concept of the principles by which the universe 
was called forth out of the Abyss of Absolute Matter. Though 
the natural differences of terminology are obvious, and though 
the allegories have taken on local color, still their common un- 
derlying truths are evident even to the uninitiated. These an- 
cient sages have thus met the exact requirements prescribed by 
Socrates in the First Alcibiades for all instructors: namely, that 
“they must agree together and not differ.” That which men 
know is the basis of their agreement; that which they do not 
know is the cause of their disagreement. That sages, widely 
separated geographically and with diverse environments and 
temperaments, should arrive at the same general conclusions 
attests the accuracy of their findings. Being for the greater 
part superficial-minded, modern thinkers do not arrive at any 
such unanimity of agreement, but grope their way in a maze 
of contradictions which they impart to the young under the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

guise of education. Thus in their frantic quest of the new or 
the spectacular, modern philosophers fabricate theories expres- 
sive more of the bizarre than of rationality. 

While all speculation regarding the infinite may be regarded 
as inconsequential when compared with the necessity of solv- 
ing the problems of daily life, such rumination is essential 
to right perspective; for by it the mortal creature is raised from 
the state of some eyeless earthworm to the estate of a partici- 
pator in the whole pageantry of universal procedure. In the 
past man has been oppressed by his own sense of inferiority. 
During the Dark Ages it was presumptuous to the point of 
heresy to speculate either upon the eternal laws by which he 
was governed, or the nature of that vast power which brooded 
over him and measured both his comings in and his going out. 

Today this bogy of fear persists only in a few isolated dis- 
tricts where the earthworm still wriggles in his native habitat, 
declaring that there is no sun because he cannot see it I The 
world is now coming to realize that thought is not heresy, but 
that not to think is to live in a concept of existence equivalent 
to the grossest blasphemy. There is nothing terrible or venge- 
ful about the universe, nor does it turn disdainfully from the 
honest searcher into its mysteries. Creation stands forth un- 
afraid and welcomes analysis of all its parts. It is said in Holy 
Writ that none shall look upon the God of Israel and live. 
But Israel’s God was the Lord of another day, and woe unto 
him who shall turn back from this new day to worship the 
irate gods of yesterday; for he shall perish from the narrowness 
of his own vision! 

The God of tomorrow stands forth in all its majesty of suns 
and moons and stars. Its extent is from space to space, and 
eternity alone confines it. Man, gazing into the eyes of man, 
beholds therein his Maker. His Creator sings to him with the 
voice of the wilderness, and descends upon him from the stars 
that spangle the heavens by night. This God is not hidden be- 
hind flowing draperies, nor are his ministers avenging angels. 
Unmoved by the passing of ages he contemplates the worlds 
that are his substance, and through his own mipd in man 

Pagan Theogony and Cosmogony 239 

seeks to probe the depth of his own reality. This Vast One 
has written his law in the heavens where they shall endure 
long after earthly codes have been erased from the memory of 
man. This God manifests his will in the endless progression 
and change by which things are moved from Then to Now and 
from Now to Then. This Universal Creator fears not man’s 
effort to understand him; telescopes and microscopes may 
scan his features without offence. For what is the quest of 
knowledge but the God in man seeking the God in Alii 3 God 
is; man is. Therefore, man is God and God is man. But be- 
fore man may consciously enter into his divinity he must gaze 
upon himself in the All without fear and recognize himself in 
the All gazing back without hate. Steadfastly and unafraid, 
the rational soul thus gazes upon those glorious beings whose 
radiant natures are that mystical light which is the life of the 
beholding soul. 

i mm ' j ' > v \ T / ' ' » » \ ▼ / 1 • • i 1 \ \ ▼ / # . i 1 l * ' W 


From the contemplation of the order and progression of the Numbers out of the 
Monad may be discovered the true relationship between natures and their Cause. 
He who understands this mystery is of all men the wisest. Numbers are the key* 
to the flow of Universal Energy. 


Mathematics, the Master Science 

r PHE Pythagoreans defined mathematics as the science of 
^ magnitudes and multitudes; for by its principles might 
be determined not only the number of constituent parts, but 
also the degree to which one part differs from another in length, 
breadth, thickness, or weight. Mathematics also makes it 
possible to compute the interval in time between incidents, and 
in distance between bodies and places. It was regarded as the 
divine science because order was established by its means 
throughout the nature of being. All the arts and sciences de- 
pend upon this order for their survival. History, for example, 
is simply a chain of incidents whose order is preceded through 
arbitrary sequences of time. If this element of time is removed 
and the incidents are not preserved in chronological order, his- 
tory becomes valueless, for the proper relationship between 
episodes is thus detroyed. Only by mathematics, then, is it 
possible to construct the chain of sequences that will show the 
definite relationship between a cause and its effect, an action 
and its reaction, a beginning and its end. 

Antedating the age of history is the age of fable, from 
which the time sequence is largely absent, with the resultant 
confusion concerning theological origins; for the creative pro- 
cesses that required hundreds of millions of years to consum- 
mate their work were so thrown out of perspective that up to 
the last century Christendom actually believed the earth to have 
been fashioned a little over six thousand years ago. Fortunately 
the laws of Nature were their own historiographers, and we 
find the records of countless ages written in the enduring sub- 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

stances of fossil and geologic strata to refute the erroneous con- 
clusions of men. 

To the trained thinker mathematics is obviously limited to 
the realm of form, or to those departments of manifestation 
where numbers as diversified elements exist suspended from 
common Unity, which is their monad and which was termed 
by the Pythagoreans Number. As all individual minds arc 
suspended from the principle of Mind, so all numbers are sus- 
pended from the principle of Number. Number is consequent- 
ly divine and founded in the archetypal sphere, from whence 
its radiations (or principles) descend into the sensible world, 
there to manifest as the exactitudes of mathematical procedure. 
By some, Number was considered synonymous with God in 
that the first motion of Deity establishes Number, which be- 
comes the mode whereby the magnitude and duration of that 
motion are rendered conceivable. Hence motion does not exist 
unless the cause is aware of its own extension or induces aware- 
ness in the substances through which the extension is taking 
place. Motion and Number, therefore, are of kindred nature 
and form the monad from which is suspended all diversified 
activity— which is Number in motion, or the numbers. 

From the fathomless and unknown beginning the principles 
of mathematics existed as a divine, unnamed reality. The 
man accredited with its discovery simply extracted from the in- 
finite the principles of universal order and christened them the 
science of mathematics. This new science thereupon became 
a hypothetical monad, and diversity took place within it, arith- 
metic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus becoming 
the vehicles of its expression in the sphere of mental activity. 
These are the lesser monads suspended from the body of the 
parent monad. As gold exists in the dark earth long before 
the miner’s pick bares it to the light of day, so all the truths 
revealed to man in the past and to be discovered by him in the 
future are eternal, and as divine principles were the media in 
the beginning by which the Creator flowed into Being from the 
eternal state of Not-Being. In its exact sense, Truth is there- 
fore the way of God in all things and truths the ways of God 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


in particular things. The forms of learning which mortals 
term science, philosophy, and theology are simply aspects of 
divine procedure on the physical, mental, and emotional planes 
respectively. As Number becomes numbers, so Truth becomes 
truths and the subordinate monads suspended from Truth be- 
come that which is real upon each of the countless levels of 
existence. Wherever one of these facts is established, it be- 
comes the monad or radiant center from which flows forth a 
number of secondary agencies. The moment this lesser estab- 
lishment and flow take place, mathematics is again manifested. 
From the monad of theology, for example, are suspended the 
religions, of which there are not less than seven major bodies. 
The flow of theology into any one of its religions establishes 
a new vortex, thereby giving expression to another suspended 
element of mathematics. Each of these major divisions of re- 
ligion becomes, in turn, the monad of a still greater order of 
diversity, a notable example being the Christian faith whose 
branches number several hundred. Each motion of Truth out 
from itself toward that infinite diversity which is the inevitable 
circumference of Unity is thus measured, determined, and di- 
rection alized by Number moving through its own vehicles— 
numbers and their infinite combinations. 

The Pythagoreans termed the number 1 as the apex of the 
pyramid of numbers, since it is the first manifestation of Num- 
ber. It is Unity established in place, for in its perfect and ab- 
stract sense Unity is unlimited by place or condition. Thus, 
Number that is all-pervading becomes the 1— the first numeral 
to stand alone. Being the least of diversity, the numeral 1 is 
therefore the spirit of the numbers; for like spirit it is universal 
life limited to the sphere of generation, or the apex of the pyr- 
amid of phenomena. About the central axis of the 1, or Tree 
of Being, moves the whole order of the numbers, which are 
suspended from the 1 even as the 1 itself is suspended from 
the principle of Unity, of which it is the primary mathematical 

Since the 1— which signifies the wholeness of the numbers— 
is equivalent to Divine Unity, it is apparent that all the other 

244 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

numerals are fractional parts of this primordial wholeness, and 
not multiples of the 1 as might first be supposed. Thus, 2 is 
in reality Unity considered in terms of halves, 3 is Unity con- 
sidered in terms of thirds, a billion is Unity considered in terms 
of billionths; for the imperishable whole, which can never in- 
crease or decrease, is always the sum of conceived or conceivable 
parts. In philosophy the 2 cannot be greater than the 1; for in 
that event, spirit would exceed the sum of itself and an amount 
would be greater than its own stated quantity. If the 1 is the 
symbol of the All in its least conditioned state, the 2 cannot 
be the All doubled, but is rather to be understood as the halv- 
ing of the Absolute within its own nature whereby the All 
becomes manifested in the least number of parts of itself. 
Diversity, as symbolized by the numbers, can exist temporarily 
within the nature of Unity, yet the number of the parts can 
never exceed their own sum, for the integrity of the whole 
must be preserved. 

By philosophic addition, therefore, the sum of all the parts 
(or numerals) must always be the 1, or wholeness. Likewise 
when parts (or numerals) are subtracted from parts the re- 
mainder must be 1, or wholeness, save when the whole is sub- 
tracted from the whole; in which event the cipher, or Absolute, 
is left, for when the conditioned is subtracted from the con- 
ditioned the Unconditioned remains. When parts (or numer- 
als) are multiplied by parts, the product cannot exceed the 1, 
or wholeness; and when parts (or numerals) arc divided by 
parts, the quotient must be the 1, or wholeness. 

The order of the numerical pyramid is thus revealed, for 
from the apex, which is wholeness, it diverges to the base, 
which consists of an infinity of fragmentary parts. This is the 
arcane significance of Herodotus* strange statement to the effect 
that the Egyptians in building their pyramids commenced at 
the top and worked downward — a method which, because it is 
an architectonic absurdity, deary demonstrates that Herodotus 
wrote history with an ulterior motive. Thus while the pres- 
tige of history may have suffered at the hands of this first his- 
torian, the body of philosophy has been enriched by his labors. 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


As the numbers are all contained within the numeral 1, so the 
pyramid is contained within its own apex, from which it flows 
down to mingle itself with the rock upon which it stands. In 
this manner is established the philosophic fact that Unity is 
synonymous with Cause and diversity with effect. 

As the alchemist employed chemical terms to symbolize the 
various elements of life, so the Pythagoreans gave to the crea- 
tive sphere the appellation of Number, and to the creation 
which issued therefrom, numbers. The Divine Mathematics 
dealt not with sums calculated upon paper nor carried in the 
mind, but rather with the order and arrangement of corporeal 
bodies, their mutual relationships, and the proximity of each 
to its own cause. Though any one of the arts or sciences is 
capable of thus becoming the outer garment of the secret doc- 
trine, the various Greek schools employed particularly mathe- 
matics, music, and astronomy in this manner. Like Herodotus, 
they frequently confused the elements of the science itself in 
order that the esoteric principles—which were often diametri- 
cally opposed to the exoteric application— might be presented to 
such as were able to interpret the symbolism. 

Through mathematics, then, is set forth the system of phil- 
osophic monadology, the principles of which were arcanely 
hinted at by Leucippus and Democritus. From the doctrine 
of monads sprang the theory of atoms, which are simply these 
archetypal unities of wholeness vested in matter and established 
as the principles of substance. TTiese atoms exist in concat- 
enated order from the infinitesimally small to the unmeasur- 
ably great, each of the greater being compounded according to 
atomic law from a prescribed number to the lesser. An im- 
portant point is established when the question is asked, “What 
do all of these atoms have in common, leaving out of considera- 
tion the factors of size and order?” Two things: their par- 
ticipation in the all-inclusive atom composed of their sum; 
the condition of individual wholeness which each atom occu- 
pies in relationship to itself, though to greater unities it occu- 
pies the relationship of a part. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

This quality of wholeness, which is the common property 
of these diversified and otherwise irreconcilable bodies, becomes 
as it were, their common denominator. Though wholeness is 
present in all natures it is not an attribute of natures. This 
wholeness is an archetypal quality — an attribute of Deity. Re- 
gardless of the nature of its expression, every activity, quality, 
or condition is essentially a wholeness. This wholeness is made 
manifest by a division within itself whereby its nature becomes 
a mass of innumerable fragments, each of the fractions partak- 
ing of the quality resident in the original wholeness, and mani- 
festing it through the wholeness of its own fractional part. 
For example, Man is a wholeness possessing and manifesting 
certain rational qualities and characteristics. This archetypal 
wholeness, flowing into diversity, breaks up to form men. Each 
individual, by virtue of his own inherent wholeness, shares in 
the virtues resident in the wholeness of the archetype; and by 
virtue of his participation in the one causal nature moves in the 
rhythm of the archetype, which archetype manifests through 
such laws as polarity, generation, rationality, morality, and such 
other ideals and practices as are the common property of all 

Let us take the principle of unities, or wholes, and apply it 
to the subject of duration. Man forever struggles against the 
illusion of time. He views the marching years as relentless 
enemies conspiring to prevent achievement; his eyes forever 
watch the clock’s swinging pendulum which ticks his life away. 
In the third part of King Henry VI, the monarch indulges in 
this soliloquy: 

See the minutes, how they run, 

How many make the hour full complete; 

How many hours bring about the day; 

How many days finish up the year; 

How many years a mortal man may live. 

The great expanse of duration, in which like a great sea all 
existense is immersed, is divided by the unenlightened into 
three hypothetical intervals: the past, the present, and the 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


future. These intervals were personified by the Greeks, who 
called them the Fates and invested them with power over the 
destinies of all mortal creatures— or more correctly, the mortal 
parts of all creatures. To most men the past is a period of vain 
regrets, the present a sterile struggle against apparently insur- 
mountable obstacles, and the future that fourth-dimensional 
vista where alone dreams come true. 

Thus hope, faith, and charity come into their own; for with 
his hope posited in tomorrow, his faith supporting him in 
today, and with charity toward yesterday, man faces the illu- 
sion of years, at the end of which Cronus (Time) awaits to 
devour his own progeny. Every moment both marks the be- 
ginning of a new period of Time and also the close of some 
expiring interval. Upon this intricate background of minutes, 
hours, and days, humanity fashions strange workmanships— the 
products of its imagings and its imaginings. 

Time is both a creator and a destroyer, for it is a perpetual 
beginning as well as an end to something. In Time all that 
is false shall pass away, and in Time all that is true shall be 
realized and established. Time is the acid test, and only that 
which can survive its ravages is worthy to be termed permanent. 
Time has dominion over all that is untrue, unreal or perverse. 
One by one the fallacies of life fall beneath the reaping scythe 
of Time, and are garnered into the capacious bin of oblivion. 
In Time all forms must die; in Time all worlds must cease; in 
Time the very universe will be resolved back into its primal 
state; in Time are contained all beginnings and all ending, for 
Time is the lord of the illusion of beginnings and endings. 
Time is the master of the mortal sphere and all that exists 
within it. Time preserves for a little while the perishable only 
that ultimately it shall perish more completely. 

Within form, however, there is that which is without be- 
ginning and without end; something that laughs at the years 
and mocks destroying Time. This enduring quality is thai 
wholeness which rejoices in the annihilation of those forms 
which are the diversity temporarily established within the 
sphere of this all-containing Unity. From the viewpoint of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

wholeness, the more that is destroyed the more remains, until 
when everything has been destroyed, all remains; for as the 
unity of Number is broken up by numbers, so the unity of life 
is broken up by forms. Hence, by destroying form, Time re- 
stores life to its perfect wholeness. 

Mortal creatures come and go in kaleidoscopic diversity; 
yet in the midst of this ever-changing scene is an intangible 
but all-pervading and inclusive permanence — the divine Reality, 
the Self, the perfect Wholeness. Unborn and undying, the 
Self is neither old nor young. Its condition never changes; for 
though all things pass away, it endures. It is wholeness, and 
being wholeness is sufficient unto itself; for that which is com- 
plete is sufficient and that which is all is enough for itself. 
As Time is the measure of parts, it cannot affect that which is 
superior to the existence of parts and which consequently knows 
no Time. 

Time is recognized and measured by the markings it leaves 
upon the face of ephemeral being. Though it deeply scores 
the surface of all material life, it can have no effect upon the 
enduring nature of Reality; for wholeness, being wholeness, 
includes Time. The parts can have but a fractional share of 
the attributes of the whole, but the whole partakes of the attri- 
butes of the parts in fullness and perfect harmony. Hence 
the whole is the master of its parts, which must bow before 
its dictum and are powerless to force their fragmentary agencies 
upon the structure of wholeness itself. 

Those who live material lives — who think and feel in terms 
of matter and estimate permanence upon the basis of corporeal 
substance— must forever fear Time which sooner or later will 
wrest their possessions from them and scar their personality 
with its blows. But those who have risen above the illusion of 
years realize, as they gaze upon the immeasurable vistas of 
eternity, that the law of the spirit is permanence and the law 
of matter is change. Time may well be the measure of cor- 
poreal being, but what is Time to that which remains unmoved 
and against which impotently pound the waves of interval! 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


Numbers partake of the may a of diversity, for they are in- 
finite in their combinations, and their progression is limited 
only by the rational capacity of the mathematician. So we 
find the Pythagorean declaring the monad, or the 1, to signify 
Reality; but the duad, or the 2, illusion. Coincident with divi- 
sion, the ephemeral state is manifested; for the laws of polarity 
for which the 2 stands limit the generating soul to the narrow 
confines of definite procedure, which procedure at best can but 
inadequately represent the essentially unimpeded flowing of 
the causal nature. 

An attempt has been made to demonstrate that Time is the 
mysterious fourth dimension so long sought by philosophers. 
The proponents of this theory declare that it is impossible to 
completely isolate any existing object from the element of Time, 
and that the failure to include this clement destroys the con- 
gruity of the object under consideration. Time is a phase or 
manifestation of place; for that which because of its abstract 
nature cannot be said to exist in place may, however, be local- 
ized in Time. For example, the moment an incident is closed 
or a personality is dissipated, it may be considered to have dis- 
appeared from place but to be still definitely situated in Time. 
Time is an elastic quality which is ever great enough to include 
both place and occurrence. Therefore an object may be de- 
clared to require four descriptive properties in order to render 
it intelligible to the senses: length, breadth, thickness, and 
place. Neither Time nor place, however, can be conceived of 
as actually fulfilling the conventional requirements of dimen- 
sions; and in approaching the problem of the fourth dimension, 
it is evident that we are attempting its solution with a three- 
dimensional consciousness. Hence our methods of approach 
must necessarily be through hypothesis and negative procedure. 

Let us assume two cubes of the same size to be composed 
of spirit and matter respectively. Cube A (spirit) is the causal 
nature of cube B (its material vehicle). The all-permeating 
quality of cube A permits it to occupy the same place that is 
occupied by cube B, so that by virtue of their composition both 
bodies may occupy the same place at the same time. But cube 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

A and cube B are not the same; consequently, an interval exists 
between them— the same type of interval that might exist be- 
tween two mentalities, one of which is highly evolved and the 
other of comparatively negligible development. The interval 
between spirit and matter is, therefore, an interval of quality, 
and when so considered may be as incalculably great as is the 
interval between God and man. How shall we measure this 
interval; how shall we accurately ascertain the distance between 
two bodies occupying precisely the same place at the same 
time, yet separated by a chasm so vast that the one may be 
totally unaware of the existence of the other? 

Throughout creation there are distances which are purely 
qualitative. In estimating the nature of an object, length, 
breadth, thickness, and quality reveal more of its nature than 
do length, breadth, thickness, and time or place; for both time 
and place are environmental attributes, while quality is purely 
intrinsic. It is not a justifiable inference, however, that quality 
is the fourth dimension, but rather that the interval of quality 
is the field whose true dimensions, proportions, and conditions 
can only be estimated or measured by a fourth tool of the rea- 
son— an instrument akin to reason itself. In addition to the 
properties of length, breadth, and thickness, every object has 
also a quality extension toward the nature of perfect Good. 
This quality extension comes under the influence of Time only 
to the degree that quality determines permanence and Time 
measures the degree of impermanence. 

The theory of relativity, by establishing the fallibility of 
present methods of estimating the relationships between objects, 
proves that all conclusions concerning celestial dynamics must 
be relative, or true only in part. Relating two bodies to each 
other is a comparatively simple problem, however, to that of 
relating an object which is in place to a spiritual principle 
which is universal. If a spiritual principle is omnipresent at all 
times, then no object can ever be moved so that it either ap- 
proaches closer to or retires farther from spirit; for spirit has 
its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere. The 
interval between spirit (cube A) and matter (cube B) is, there- 

Mathematics, the Master Science 251 

fore, hardly a proper subject for relativity, but must be regarded 
rather as a lapse of quality. In other words, it is an interval 
which exists without distance, since distance cannot exist unless 
both objects under consideration occupy place. To attempt to 
establish distance between these two opposites of quality rep- 
resented by spirit and matter would be like standing in a 
certain spot and asking the question, “How far is it from here 
to everywhere?” The correct answer, “As far as here is less 
than everywhere,” is almost as baffling to the faculties of com- 
prehension as the question. Such an interval can only be pro- 
perly surveyed and subdivided by one fortunate enough to 
possess the fourth-dimensional consciousness, which would en- 
able him to travel through the quality interval with the same 
facility that we pass through the place interval. The popular 
fallacy that God dwells in the furthermost angle of the heavens 
and must be hymned in triple fortissimo arises from the dimen- 
sion limitations of human consciousness, for the mind un- 
trained in abstractions, confuses the interval of quality with 
the interval of distance. The mind concludes that if evil be 
near, good— its opposite — consequently must be far removed, 
and the distance between them can be estimated by a highly 
spiritualized yardstick. 

Thus distance may be defined as the interval between two 
given bodies, places, incidents, or conditions. The methods 
employed to measure these intervals differ, according to the 
nature of the intervals themselves. For example, the interval 
between bodies or places may be estimated by the arbitrary 
standards of distance; the interval between incidents by the 
arbitrary standards of time, and the interval between conditions 
by the arbitrary standards of quality. When limited to the 
interval between physical objects or places, distance can be cal- 
culated with reasonable accuracy, for men have established defi- 
nite laws of measurement by common agreement. Such methods 
of computation, however, are wholly inadequate in die almost 
unexplored spheres of consciousness and mind, concerning the 
natures of which most men differ widely one from the other. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

It has been said that the philosopher may travel around the 
world while seated on his own hearthstone, for thought anni- 
hilates the interval of distance. A man thinks of China and, 
behold, he is in China; for he must always dwell in the midst 
of his own thoughts. But with what subtle instruments shall 
we measure the wide interval through which thought sped in 
its instantaneous passage to Cathay? Certainly the tape is not 
made that meets the need. Again, realization eliminates the 
intervals in consciousness, for through realization the one real- 
izing becomes identical with the thing realized, and thus spans 
the superphysical interval between the Self and the not-self. 
Into this interval Self is ceaselessly flowing, and by the gradual 
elimination of this qualitative interval the fractional part ever 
mingles itself more completely with the whole. Nirvana may 
be defined as the ultimate annihilation of every interval of 
quality, for it marks the point to which the lesser self has been 
caused to approach, and finally to be merged with its ultimate 
goal— -the Greater Self. 

Mathematics enables the investigator of the abstract verities 
of the philosophic sphere to organize his findings and present 
them intelligently to a world so limited in consciousness that 
it is incapable of imagining conditions apart from place, or in- 
tervals unmeasurable in terms of distance. In presenting any 
abstract reality for consideration by the concrete faculties, some- 
thing must necessarily be lost; for truth cannot be brought 
down to the level of ignorance without the element of ignor- 
ance entering into the equation and thereby detracting from 
the integrity of truth. Mathematics, however, offers a medium 
whereby such pollution is reduced to a minimum. For ex- 
ample, it would be highly ridiculous to attempt to estimate in 
terms of physical distance how far life is from death, heaven 
from hell or opinion from fact. 

Recognizing that the law of generation works through the 
principle of opposites, it is nevertheless a justifiable assumption 
that the total interval between two opposites is equivalent to 
unity, or the One. This totality is then capable of being re- 
duced to halves, quarters, and other forms of division. The 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


numbers will then represent concatenated degrees of quality, 
and a definite scale is thereby established which will permit 
the various forms manifesting these qualities to be accurately 
determined in relation to the scheme through which they are 
moving. Thus, while it is difficult to compute the distance 
between growth and decay, maturity may be fixed as the half- 
way point. 

The evolution of human consciousness may be measured in 
a similar way, for the entire interval between unconsciousness 
and consciousness can be conceived of as divisible into thirds. 
The first division confers no realization beyond the limitations 
of place, the second no realization beyond the limitations of 
interval, and the third no realization beyond the limitations of 
quality. By such mathematical procedure it is possible to de- 
termine the age of a soul; for the interval between beginning 
and end, being understood as a wholeness, the position of the 
manifesting life at any given time may be determined by the 
degree of its own quality in relation to the total privation of 
that quality— which was its source— and the fullness of that 
quality— which is its ultimate. 

Philosophy employs such terms as “young” souls and “old” 
souls. A young soul is one who in quality is more proximate 
to source than to ultimate, or in whom the degree of privation 
of a given quality exceeds the amount of the quality itself. If 
there is more of the absence of a quality present than there is 
of the quality itself, then the quality is declared to be negative. 
If the reverse is true, the quality is declared to be positive. 
Using 100% to represent the sum total of the interval between 
any two conditions or states, the relative perfection of a life 
in the plan of progress is determined by the proportion its posi- 
tion bears to the total interval. Thus, an individual manifest- 
os 90% of a certain quality is nine-tenths of the way across 
the interval that lies between the total privation and the fullness 
of that quality. To summarize, the intervals of quality (in 
common with the calculations of all superphysical elements) 
must be established upon the basis of totality or wholeness, and 
growth or change is always computed as a percentage of that 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

basis. Hence, in calculating spiritual progress, each of us must 
calculate it in terms of fractions, parts, or percentages as related 
to the wholeness of Being. 

At this point it may not be out of place to reproduce Proclus’ 
encomium to the science of mathematics: “Hence, the business 
of this science is apparent from its name: for it moves knowl- 
edge, excites intelligence, purifies the dianoetic part, unfolds the 
forms which we essentially contain, removes the oblivion and 
ignorance which we possess from generation, and dissolves the 
bonds with which we are held in captivity by an irrational 
nature. And all this it effects according to a real similitude 
of that divinity (Mercury) who leads into light intellectual 
gifts, fills all things with divine reason, moves souls to intellect, 
excites them as from a profound sleep, converts them by in- 
quiry to themselves, perfects them through obstetrication, and 
through the invention of pure intellect conducts them to a 
blessed life.” 

In the Platonic theory of converging nullities is revealed a 
strange doctrine concerning negative affirmations and affirm- 
ative negations. The number 1 is a positive affirmative number 
in that it sets forth in unequivocal terms certain divine attri- 
butes of Reality: namely, unity, inclusiveness, priority, and 
stability. On the other hand we may have a negative statement, 
as “God is no thing.” This is an affirmative negation in that 
no thing exceeds thing in the quality of excellence, for the 
removal of a definite state leaves an indefinite state partaking 
more perfectly of divine qualities. Whereas the 1 is similar 
to the nature of Divinity, the 2 is dissimilar in that it is the 
symbol of contraries and separation. Hence, while Divinity 
can be defined affirmatively by the 1, it must be defined nega- 
tively by the 2; for God is like the 1 and unlike the 2. In 
other words, numbers define Deity negatively; Number, affirm- 
atively. The numbers, consequently, are negative affirmations, 
and Deity is defined negatively by every form in the universe; 
for forms resemble Deity in their unity and differ from Deity 
in their diversity. 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


An affirmation is a definite declaration of opinion, belief or 
attitude, and, if true, inclines toward and becomes identical 
with truth. If the affirmation be false, however, it retires from 
truth as though abashed, thus negatively affirming truth by 
declaring itself to be dissimilar. A negation is an affirmation 
through denial, and is the only method by which the Absolute 
may be approached. When the negation verges toward the 
thing negated, it nullifies its negative correspondences in that 
thing so only that which is remains. Thus affirmatives give 
definition by investing power with place, condition, and quality; 
while negatives, by divesting the Absolute of these defining 
limitations, restore it to the estate of supreme dignity. In this 
manner is created the paradox that affirmations pertaining to 
First Cause are negations, and negations are affirmations. 

Theological systems founded upon the premise of an an- 
thropomorphic deity assume duality to be ultimate and there- 
fore invest the 2 with a dignity superior to the 1, which is a 
concept Platonically unsound. The 2 is the symbol of good 
and evil and the entire illusion of sequences has its foundation 
in the duad — the monad of diversity. According to the Pythag- 
oreans, the 2 is an evil or unholy number because it is the 
archetype of separateness and produces from itself a dual stand- 
ard which is now accepted as the manifestation of a dual 
creative principle. Thus we are given a key to the intrinsic 
natures of good and evil; for good continually inclines toward 
unity or wholeness, and being ever the same amalgamates 
with everything good, so that diversity can never exist therein. 
Evil, on the other hand, is widely diversified and may exist in 
many conditions or states, all of which are irreconcilable not 
only to good but also to each other. While the body of good 
is always a unity, the body of evil is always a diversity; for evil 
does not co-ordinate with itself. For example, a virtue is good, 
and the manifestation of virtue produces an action to which 
the nature of good is intrinsic. Blending with the ever-existing 
good, the good act becomes a part thereof, thereby enriching, 
strengthening, and increasing the entire body of good. Con- 
versely, a vice is evil and must remain as an isolated activity, 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

since it is incapable either of being accepted into the nature of 
good or of attaching itself to the body of evil, as the element 
of concord is not common to the intrinsic nature of evil. 

Hence, good ever fortifies its own nature, while evil under- 
mines itself by the ceaseless warfare between its own parts. 
In the unification of one good with another, the power of good 
is accordingly magnified. When one evil comes in contact with 
another evil, in the ensuing struggle each evil destroys the 
effectiveness of the other. In this way it becomes apparent 
that good, possessing the virtue of unity, must ever increase 
until it includes everything within its own nature; while evil, 
in which the principle of diversity is inherent, will ultimately 
destroy itself by the continual controversy between its parts. 
It has been well said that two evils do not make one good, 
but attacking each other achieve their mutual destruction, and 
by self-elimination thus prepare the way for the irresistible 
progress of good. 

For this reason the Pythagoreans declared that the perfect 
numbers (the sum of whose fractional parts is equal to them- 
selves) arc the most rare; whereas the superabundant numbers 
(the sum of whose fractional parts is greater than themselves) 
and the deficient numbers (the sum of whose fractional part is 
less than themselves) are most common. This is based upon 
the fact that there are many ways by which any definite end 
may be accomplished, but only one of those ways is the best. 
Consequently he alone is wise who can recognize the best, and 
he alone is strong who has the courage to use this method, re- 
gardless of the personal peril or responsibility involved. There- 
fore, while all natures partake to some degree of the good, only 
that is true which partakes in fullest measure of the good, and 
only one who is qualified to recognize good can make a rational 
choice between a number of bodies with qualitative differences. 

Concerning the doctrine of perfections as revealed by num- 
bers, Thomas Taylor, in his Theoretic Arithmetic, sums up in 
the following words the opinions of Nicomachus, Macrobius, 
and Theon of Smyrna: “Perfect numbers, therefore, are beauti- 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


ful images of the virtues which are certain media between ex- 
cess and defect, and are not summits, as by some of the ancients 
they were supposed to be. And evil indeed is opposed to evil, 
but both are opposed to one good. Good, however, is never 
opposed to good, but to two evils at one and the same time. 
Thus timidity is opposed to audacity, to both (of) which the 
want of true courage is common; but both timidity and audacity 
are opposed to fortitude. Craft also is opposed to fatuity, to 
both (of) which the want of intellect is common; and both 
these are opposed to prudence. Thus, too, profusion is opposed 
to avarice, to both (of) which illiberally is common; and both 
these are opposed to liberality. And in a similar manner in the 
other virtues; by all (of) which it is evident that perfect num- 
bers have a great similitude to the virtues. But they also re- 
semble the virtues on another account; for they are rarely 
found, as being few, and they are generated in a very constant 
order. On the contrary, an infinite multitude of superabundant 
and diminished numbers may be found, nor are they disposed 
in any orderly series, nor generated from any certain end; and 
hence they have a great similitude to the vices, which are num- 
erous, inordinate, and indefinite.*’ (For further details on this 
subject consult the chapter on Pythagorean Mathematics in my 
recent work, An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, 
Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy .) 

As the 1 represents the monad of unity, so the 2 as the 
monad of diversity is the moving spirit of irrationality. The 
conflict between rationality and irrationality may be likened to 
the proverbial concept of the two ends fighting the middle. 
Extremes are basically irrational, and only the point of equi- 
librium may be said to be established upon an enduring founda- 
tion. Furthermore, as the extremes pertain to the secondary 
creation, they are illusional when compared to the center, which 
is the primary and enduring creation. Thus height and depth 
are both opposed to the center, for depth departs from the 
center in a downward course, and height in an upward course. 
That which departs from center departs from balance, which is 
a principle exploited to its ultimate by Akiyaraa Shirobei in the 

258 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

theory of Judo or Jujitsu. The theory underlying Judo “start 
from the mathematical principle that the stability of a body i 
destroyed as soon as the vertical line passing through its cente 
of gravity falls outside its base.” Once the individual is lurec 
into jeopardizing his equilibrium, he becomes his own wors 
enemy and requires little outside assistance to bring about hi 

The philosophic truth here revealed applies not only to th 
body but to the consciousness as well. When the self in equi 
librium, signified by the 1, is intrigued to incline from its per 
feet state toward the extremes, signified by the 2, it jeopardize 
its stability and is at the mercy of its adversary, diversity. Le 
the 1 signify permanence and the 2 life and death. Both lif 
and death share the common vice of impermanence, as the 
both lack the common virtue of permanence. Therefore, it i 
as fatal for the 1 to incline toward life as toward death; for ii 
assuming life it assumes that which must die, and in assuminj 
death it assumes that which is corruptible and changeable 
Only when dissociated from both is the perfection of endur 
ancc assured. Thus is revealed the stability of Number an< 
the instability of numbers, for all numbers (save the 1) partak 
of the common evil of manyness and are involved in the proccs 
of generation, whereby imperfection perpetuates itself since it i 
incapable of enduring in its own nature. The self exists in 
dependent of generation in that, being indivisible, it is incoi 
ruptible; but the not-self, being divisible and corruptible, d( 
pends for its endurance upon generation and the renewal of it 
transitory bodies. 

Between the rational soul and mathematics is the symp: 
thetic bond of similars. Preciseness — which is an attribute c 
the good — delights in precision; and order — which is a qualit 
of Number — rejoices in the continuity of similars and retire 
from the malarrangements of dissimilars. In facing inward tc 
ward its own intrinsic perfection, the self becomes Numbe 
regarding No Number, or that Cipher which precedes numers 
tion. But facing outward toward bodies, it encounters th 
numerical classifications of orders and projections, and therefor 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


stands in equilibrium between Not-being (which is the perfect 
and eternal Being) and transitory being (which, in the terms 
of the ultimate, is not-being). Thus self (the individual) is 
the monad of secondary natures and the paternal foundation 
of progeny, which are tertiary natures. Hence the 1 (which 
is the monad or archetype of good) and the 2 (which is the 
monad or archetype of evil) are both declared by the Pythag- 
oreans to be no numbers but sacred qualities— namely, the pri- 
mary and secondary natures. The 3, or monad of tertiary na- 
tures, was regarded as the actual parent of numbers, or progeny, 
for 3 is a blending of similars (the 1) and dissimilars (the 2) 
and is consequently the proper foundation of compound bodies, 
which compounds must always consist of similars and dissim- 
ilars, similars being the spiritual and abiding parts and dissim- 
ilars the material and transitory parts. From the various orders 
of similars and dissimilars issue the multiplicities which are 
alluded to as the cogitations of Divine Mind. Thus, the first 
Trinity consists of the Monad (the Father) the Duad (the 
Power) and the Triad (the Mind or Monad of Generations); 
for all generations consist of a rational nature (the Monad) 
immersed in an irrational nature (the Duad) toward some 
phase of which the Monad inclines, or seems to incline, during 
the irrational epoch. Liberation, therefore, is the retirement 
of the Monad from proximity to opposites, and the re-establish- 
ment of its own self-sufficiency by which it is capable of assimi- 
lating the qualities of the dissimilars and returning to its true 
abiding condition as the paternal foundation of generations. 

Syrianus, the Pythagorean, declared that the wise, turning 
from the vulgar paths, delivered their philosophy in secret to 
those alone who were worthy to receive it and exhibited it to 
the rest of mankind through mathematical terminology. Forms 
therefore, they called numbers as being the first things separated 
from impartible union; for such natures as are above form are 
also above separation and consequently pertain to the sphere 
of Number itself. The sacred decad, or 10, is generated from 
the sum of the first four numbers (considering the 1 and 2 
as numbers)—!, 2, 3, and 4. The 1 was termed the first point. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the 2 the first interval, the 3 the first superficies, and the 4 the 
first solid. Thus Aristotle declared that the first permanence 
is the dot, the first length the duad, the first breadth the triad, 
and the first depth the tetrad. The nature of the tetrad, being 
that of the first solid or body, reveals why it is declared to be 
the symbol of God. The 4 is the Demiurgus, whose substantial 
nature is the proper field of mundane fabrications. As four 
surfaces are the least number that can enclose an area, so the 
Demiurgus is the first of areas or fields; and consequently the 
one in whom we live and move and have our being. 

Pythagoras further declared that knowledge existed in four 
states. The first, similar to the monad, was called intellect ; the 
second, similar to the duad, science; the third, similar to the 
triad, opinion; and the fourth, similar to the tetrad, sense . It 
is evident that intellect partakes of the solidarity of the monad, 
for it is the immovable contemplation of relative mutations. 
The duad even fulfills the Baconian requirements for the con- 
stitution of science, for the 2 establishes the comparisons essen- 
tial to the accumulation of knowledge through observation and 
experimentation. The 3 consists of three monads separated 
by two intervals. These intervals become the proper symbols 
of opinion; for opinions are founded not upon facts (monads) 
but upon the intervals between them, and two intervals are 
necessary for opinions in that opinions exhibit the qualities of 
dissimilars. The 4 consists of four monads and three inter- 
vals, which intervals may be likened to the dimensions — length, 
breadth, thickness; for the monads are qualities manifesting in 
intervals or dimensions by which they are rendered appreciable 
to the sense perceptions. Thus the hidden symbolism of the 
tetractys, or pyramid of ten dots, is unveiled. The four rows 
of dots further signify four qualities — form, order, beauty, unity 
— imperishably related to Number. These qualities partake of 
excellence, and through their participation in the order of crea- 
tion render the whole felicitous to the internal constitution. 
Their presence insures the comparative excellence of forms and 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


As already intimated, every compound body is composed of 
the qualities of the monad and the duad. Aristotle reminds the 
disciple that a number, such as the 6 for example, partakes of 
the nature of the duad in that it is composed of parts; i. e., 
6 monads. But it also partakes of the monad itself in that these 
parts form a whole— the 6 — and the question naturally arises: 
By what virtue do a number of monads group together to form 
a definite wholeness to which an arbitrary term is given? In 
other words, why do 6 monads make 6 rather than simply 6 
monads, for the 6 is not denominated six l’s but a unity com- 
posed of 6. As the Pythagoreans explain it, the 6 monads may 
be considered as six pieces of wood from which is fashioned a 
chair which we will call the number 6 itself. By what virtue 
do these six separate objects form a new and definite pattern, 
and why should they not always remain simply a bundle of 
wood? If the numbers were merely aggregations of monads, 
they would all be bundles, differing simply in the number of 
their parts. By virtue of a divine order, however, these parts 
are made to pattern themselves into new terms. The Platonists 
declared that as a carpenter fashioned a new object out of the 
separate elements, so a mysterious agent called the Numcrative 
Soul — being itself a monad and consequently a wholeness com- 
posed of infinite diversity — gives form and subsistence to all 
numbers according to definite divine laws. “But,” Thomas 
Taylor concludes, “in this only consists the difference, that the 
carpenter’s art is not naturally inherent in us, and requires 
manual operation, because it is conversant with sensible matter; 
but the numerative art is naturally present with us, and is there- 
fore possessed by all men, and has an intellectual matter which 
it instantaneously invests with form.” 

In the light of Pythagoreanism, it is no cause for amaze- 
ment that 6 monads are never without the innate sense of 
stx-ncss ; for the moment a certain number of units are com- 
bined they are ensouled by the quality equal to their sum, and 
invested with an organized formative nature through which 
they manifest a wholeness where previously they manifested a 
separateness. It follows that with the establishment of sums 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

these sums are automatically invested by the rational soul of 
man himself with the sense of wholeness equal to their number. 
If 3, for example, be taken from 6, that which remains is im- 
mediately invested with the wholeness of 3. We must give 
form to numeration, for “our soul cannot endure to see that 
which is formless, unadorned, especially as she possessess the 
power of investing it with ornament.” The soul naturally 
desires the adornment of wholeness, and recognizing this intrin- 
sic urge is pleased to confer it upon other natures. Forms are 
consequently the sense of wholeness superimposed upon parts 
by the rational soul, to the end that these forms are no longer 
regarded as bundles of monads but as definite structures. 

To summarize, the world is an infinite number of monads 
grouped into an infinite diversity of patterns, each pattern in- 
vested in a quality called form, which quality is measured by 
the quantity of the monadic parts. The world is adorned with 
numbers which hang upon it as ornaments upon the person. 
Each group of numbers is capable of infinite division, but 
whether in its divided or undivided state, it in turn is adorned 
with an infinite diversity of unities or wholes which issue forth 
in response to the urge of the rational soul to clothe abstrac- 
tions in denominating natures. Thus the law which governs 
the increase and decrease of wholes, and the superimposition 
of wholeness upon number, is a manifestation of a divine urge 
within the numerative monad, which is termed Number and 
is a definite attribute of Cause itself. 

In this manner we sec mathematically demonstrated how 
Man, the unconditioned principle, is obscured by men, the in- 
finite diversity; how mind, the Yellow Emperor, is hidden in 
the midst of minds which think in many terms and with many 
results, but which reason all toward the same end. We behold 
the Creator so veiled by his creations that his own dignity is 
no longer apparent but is absorbed into the effulgence of his 
spheres. As we gaze forth upon the universal vista we see the 
veils behind which stand the divine principles — the immovable 
causes of motion, the un generated causes of generation, the un- 
dying causes of life and death. Our external parts reach forth 

Mathematics, the Master Science 


to grasp the external substance erf the All, our tiny fingers reach 
out to pluck the stars from their thrones, and our outer being 
bows with veneration before the outer substances that are its 
very self and from which it was mined in the Primordial Day. 
Meanwhile our inner selves— the invisible cause of our visible 
activity— yearn to be mingled with the Spirit of Cosmos. 


TV jpjct Ufhl half U the diagram represents the causal unlVCf *S 
x>n «t seen unwinding frnm t-h*. ar^runal trerm to desce 

Ai«d H naU “ lhc dia 8 r am represents the causal un. 

** seen unwinding from the archetypal germ to 
u Lrom thence it falls into the irrational sphere to r '*- 

the globe of the soul 
radiant solar center, 



Demigods and Supermen 

V \ 7 HEN Socrates declared irony and inductive reasoning to 
^ be the peculiar instruments of philosophy, he implied 
far more than the words convey to the average layman. As 
previously stated (pp. 189) the soul of man when immersed 
in generation manifests according to the laws of the generating 
sphere. Hence man can only liberate himself from corporeal 
conditions by first freeing his rational part from mundane en- 
tanglements. The personality with its numerous attributes is 
suspended from the generating soul, and consequently the clar- 
ification of consciousness is attainable only by the liberation of 
the self from the generating principle. While invested with 
the substances of the generating sphere, the rational soul is 
capable of objectifying an infinite diversity of forms or bodies. 
These the generating soul spontaneously evolves from its own 
nature by virtue of its inherent formative qualities. As forms 
and corporeal natures continuously flow from the soul thus in- 
vested with generating attributes, it is evident that any attempt 
to escape diversity by dispersion of the forms is futile. The gen- 
erating soul is like the fabled dragon— for every head that is 
cut off two more grow to take its place. Inhibitions and aus- 
terities are efforts to combat the processes of the generating soul 
by destruction of the generations as they come forth. But the 
task is never finished, and no permanent victory is ever won. 
The remodeling of character through the despotism of will is 
therefore, at best, an imperfect and inadequate procedure. To 
arbitrarily remove the ends, while the means which produce 
those ends are permitted to remain, is to imperil the entire 
nature in which such inconsistency exists. 


266 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In a certain sense man is an appendage of impulse; hence 
the regeneration of character must be through the reformation 
of impulses and not their inhibition. A certain consistency 
must exist upon all planes of activity. The animal soul must 
ever express itself through animal instincts, the generating 
soul through the instincts of generation, and the rational soul 
through the urge to rationality. For the internal nature thus 
to function upon one level of consciousness while the external 
nature attempts to exist upon another, is to create a confusion 
which must inevitably result in disaster. Socrates maintained 
that the rationalizing of the individual must take place in the 
causal nature which, flowing downward into the corporeal 
constitution, will speedily mold the inferior into the image of 
the superior. Hence his emphasis upon the efficacy of irony 
and inductive reasoning. Irony is here to be understood in the 
sense of fate, which philosophers have ever declared to be 
ironical. Fate effects the liberation of the rational part by 
revealing that all things are destined to return to their own 
natures (or origins) in spite of every effort to nullify this design. 
Ultimate achievement is hence unavoidable, and is the certain 
end of all beginnings; but incalculable is the interval that must 
elapse before the operations of divine procedure restore all 
things to their primal state. 

Irony, therefore, is the long way around— the path of the 
drone. It is beset with every obstacle that materiality can con- 
trive; it leads through death and sorrow, and he who chooses 
to take the bufferings of destiny must be prepared to withstand 
the blasts of outrageous circumstance. Ironically, he who 
chooses to do the least must accomplish the most; for none 
shall labor as hard as the sluggard or struggle as intensely for 
liberation as the one content to drift upon the sea of Providence. 
Whoever chooses to escape the responsibilities of life exhausts 
himself in his efforts to dodge inevitables. 

For the foolish, then, the ironic road; for the wise, the true 
Socratic path— the theory of inductive reasoning. Establishing 
his entire philosophy upon man— consequently upon a parti- 
cular— Socrates reasoned therefrom to generals, thus establish- 

Demigods and Supermen 


ing a procedure to which Francis Bacon added the essential 
element of analogy. Induction infers a process of thought 
whereby the rationality which is posited in particulars is urged 
or impelled to retire along the line of its own flow, and verge 
toward the monad (or general) of which it is the particular. 
In other words, Socrates sought to arrive at divine realities by 
causing particulars to retire into their own general state. While 
the monad might erroneously be considered a particular, it is 
in reality a general, and the manifestations which emerge from 
it are the particulars. 

The ancient Socratic philosophy involved, therefore, the cor- 
rection of particulars by the renovation of generals. Affirming 
all particulars to have their origin in generals, it is evident that 
man as a particular is founded upon Man as a general, and 
hence that which influences the general must necessarily in- 
fluence the particular. The reverse, however, is not essentially 
true; for the lesser cannot dominate the greater but must be 
dominated thereby. Philosophy, accordingly, is peculiarly 
adapted to the fields of generals, while science has an affinity 
for the field of particulars. Hence science is founded in phi- 
losophy and must receive its particular truths by adaptation 
from general verities. Philosophy, consequendy, is not indi- 
vidualistic in the commonly accepted sense, but regards indi- 
viduals as dependencies of universals, and seeks to achieve the 
liberation of individuals by the reconstruction of universals. 

Descending to the level of man himself, we must then re- 
gard man as a general; his parts, members, and attributes as 
particulars suspended from his general, or rational, nature. Man 
is not simply a personality; he is a personality, an individuality, 
and a universality in one. His universality verges toward 
universals, his individuality verges toward individuals, and his 
personality verges toward personals. Each of these natures in 
turn has its own dependencies which verge toward it and toward 
which it also apparently verges. From the subject matter of 
the previous chapter it is evident that generals partake of unity 
or wholeness; and particulars of diversity; for as diversity is 
contained within unity, so the particulars are contained within 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the general. Impulses which impel the consciousness toward 
particulars consequently incline it toward diversity and illusion, 
while impulses which impel the consciousness toward generals, 
incline it toward wholeness or reality. 

How, then, shall man stimulate his inferior nature to verge 
toward its own superior part and thus accomplish philosophic 
growth? The answer is evident: By permeating the conscious- 
ness with the realization of wholeness, or by the instinctive 
inductive process of reasoning toward generals. Personalities 
are particulars; principles are generals. Hence to reason toward 
particulars is to reason toward personalities. Personalities are 
infinite diversity, and the contemplation of them is a philo- 
sophic error whose reward is an involvement therein which 
jeopardizes rationality. By inclining toward generals, however, 
wc approach principles, and in the sphere of principles we ap- 
proach wholeness; for a principle is a wholeness which may 
manifest as a diversity in application, but which in its own 
nature is an essential unity. Involution is consequently the in- 
clination of the rational soul toward diversity (particulars). Its 
nadir is corporeality, where dissimilars manifest as an infinite 
diversity of forms. Evolution, conversely, is an ascent to prin- 
ciple, in which the rational soul verges toward the principle of 
wholeness, thereby uniting itself with natures of ever-increas- 
ing permanence and lucidity. 

It follows that growth inspires the contemplation of wholes, 
or unities, and that contemplation of wholes inspires, in turn, 
growth. Thus a benevolent circle is created which gradually 
accomplishes the unification of parts and elevates the abiding 
genius (the rational spirit) to the contemplation of abiding 
monads, or wholes. From the standpoint of pure philosophy 
it is useless to affirm wholeness or deny diversity or platitudinize 
concerning either. The realization must flow downward from 
the apex of the individual self, where it has become established 
as the object of the rapturous contemplation of the rational 
soul. By verging toward the realization of wholeness the ra- 
tional soul is drawn out of the quagmire of generation, regain- 

Demigods and Supermen 


ing thereby the control of certain functions and members ren- 
dered impotent by the embrace of generation. 

As particulars depend from generals, so all natures exist 
suspended from principles, and before the mind is capable of 
rational functioning it must be established upon the foundation 
of familiarity with principles. It follows that intellect founded 
upon principle cannot deviate from that which its own ration- 
ality has approved. Consequently minds founded in principles 
arc certain to function in harmony with the flow of principles, 
and the inevitable result of intellect functioning in harmony 
with such a flow is reasonableness of conclusion. In the last 
analysis that which is reasonable is true if the reason itself be 
established in principle; for no part can deviate from the whole- 
ness from which it is suspended, and principle is always suffi- 
ciently inclusive to circumscribe exception. In simple words, 
then, the establishment of the mind in wholes (unities) is essen- 
tial to right thinking , and is the master to the rationed cog- 
nizance of the order and sequence of parts— the monads of 

The haphazardness of modern philosophic speculation is 
due to ignoring the necessity of founding intellection in wholes 
or unities. A mind which does not reason from generals to 
particulars is always in danger of elevating a particular to the 
dignity of a general, thus creating an exclusive rather than an 
inclusive general. In other words, when the emphasis upon a 
part causes this part to appear as a wholeness to the perceptions 
of a specialized intellect, the result is a wholeness which is not 
inclusive in that parts do not contain each other. If a part, 
therefore, be raised to the dignity of a wholeness, then another 
part may also be similarly elevated, the result being an infinite 
diversity of wholes, which is a philosophic absurdity in that 
the element of diversity cannot exist in wholeness. When a 
part is so raised above the level of its own dignity we find a 
system of thought which seeks to reduce universal to the estate 
of parts; to interpret the whole in terms of the fraction; to ex- 
plain the whole by the laws of the part; or to invest the whole 
with the limited attributes of the part. 

270 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

All this results in the concept of an all which is not all-in- 
clusive and which consequently finds it necessary either to 
manipulate universal laws so that they conform to the imper- 
fect attributes of the part itself, or to ignore those phases of 
universal activity whose manifestations are beyond the province 
of the part. For example, to the ancient philosopher science 
was a part of the body of knowledge. It was therefore a de- 
pendency of reason and an instrument of erudition. By the 
modern scientist, however, science is elevated to the dignity 
of wholeness, and regarded as the actual monad of rationality 
rather than a dependency thereof. The resultant confusion is 
foreshadowed. The field of phenomena includes a multitude 
of activities outside the province of science as a particular. 
These are naturally excluded from science when it is regarded 
as a general. Hence scientific men are prone to ridicule the 
concept of the immortality of the soul, because such concepts 
do not come under the jurisdiction of science as a particular; 
and when science is thus elevated to the false dignity of an 
absolute state the doctrine of the soul is necessarily outlawed 
from universal. 

The inadequacy of science is thus demonstrated, for it is 
indisputably established as a particular and not a general. There 
is a natural tendency of the mind to elevate its own particular 
to the estate of a general. This is the inevitable outcome of 
founding knowledge upon particulars. The philosophic per- 
spective is lost and short-sightedness ensues. From short-sight- 
edness itself as a monadic entity, are suspended such particulars 
as bigotry, intolerance, and rational injustice. 

In America today we have a deluge of cults — literally hun- 
dreds of minor creeds, orthodox as well as heterodox, which 
have sprung up from an over-emphasis of the Baconian doc- 
trine of particulars. Analytical reasoning is largely responsible 
for this unfortnate condition, for analysis is a separative im- 
pulse whose natural trend is to break up similars into dissim- 
ilar* and thereby unduly emphasize them. On the other hand 
synthesis is an unceasing impulse toward the establishment of 
wholes or unities. This does not necessarily imply that the 

Demigods and Supermen 


philosophy behind the procedure is at fault; for the micro- 
scope, while ever revealing particulars, at the same time reveals 
also the unity of those particulars. If parts be invariably re- 
garded as wholes, and each new division be likewise invested 
with the sense of wholeness, then the present analytical process, 
through the reformation of its theory, would automatically be- 
come a synthetic process. 

In religion this practice of elevating parts to the dignity of 
wholes is most common. Every little motion is thus raised to 
the dignity of a divine edict; every little whim rooted in a 
spiritual certainty; and every infinitesimal belief so highly 
magnified that it eclipses the entire body of universal order. 
If every individual nail in the rim of a wheel should conceive 
itself to be the hub, imagine the dilemma of the wheel at find- 
ing itself expected to revolve upon a score of different hubs 
simultaneously and make definite progress! 

The mind naturally thinks in terms of particulars; it is 
consequently incapable of ascending to that sphere of rational- 
ity where dwells the spirit of intellectual justice. Justice docs 
not necessarily result from a full comprehension of wholes, but 
rather from the realization of the equality of parts. Thus in 
philosophy there is a democracy of parts and an autocracy of 
wholes; for parts are equal to parts but inferior to wholes. 
St. Paul epitomizes the philosophy of the “Master Builder” con- 
cerning this subject: “For we know in part, and we prophesy 
in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that 
which is in part shall be done away.” (I Cor. XIII : 9-10) In 
this case that which is “perfect” signifies the state of wholeness. 
These words have been interpreted by the Christian Church 
to signify the ultimate unification of all men under its own 
banner, unmindful of the obvious fact that it is but a “part” 
itself and can endure only until “that which is perfect is come.” 

The elevation of isolated fragments to a position of suprem- 
acy over wholes is the sequel to the overemphasis of indi- 
vidualism; for individualism, while it properly emphasizes the 
wholeness innate within parts, fails to emphasize the greater 
wholeness that is the sum of parts. The natural supremacy of 

272 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the Platonic system of reasoning over the more popular Aristo- 
telian method thus becomes self-apparent. Reasoning a posteri- 
ori is characteristic of modern thought, whereas the ancient 
Mysteries owed their excellence largely to the a priori method. 
The a posteriori method inclines toward separateness, egotism, 
and selfishness; the a prori toward dignity, humility, and un- 

All systems of thought which ascribe to the parts a power 
equal to the whole are productive of despotism and the false 
usurpation of power. Tyranny is an oppression, and the limit- 
ing boundary of parts oppresses the limitlessness of wholes. 
From this insufficiency is born rebellion, for that which is un- 
duly bounded bursts its bonds and escapes into an area sufficient 
for its expression. When inferiors are ruled by superiors, order 
reigns; but when superiors are ruled by inferiors, chaos prevails. 
If man is ruled by the laws of the universe he is justly dealt 
with; but if the universe were subjected to the laws of men, 
sufficiency would be oppressed by insufficiency. When partic- 
ulars are ruled by generals, rational order is the product; but 
when generals are ruled by particulars, the despotism of irra- 
tionality destoys all rational congruity. 

When the individual essays the philosophic life it is first 
necessary that the mind be trained to think in round terms; 
for roundness partakes of the nature of wholeness because the 
circle or sphere (like wholeness) is without beginning or end. 
To think in round terms may be interpreted to mean keeping 
the mentality upon the level of greatest inclusiveness, ever striv- 
ing to attain fuller inclusiveness since perfect inclusiveness 
alone qualifies the intellect to descend to the contemplation of 
pans. For example, when thinking of religion, do not think 
of Mohammedans, Brahmans, or Christians, but think of reli- 
gion as the universal adoration of creative principles common 
to all mankind, and found in a rudimentary form even among 
the higher animals, such as the anthropoid ape. 

Having first established the universality of veneration, we 
have founded our comprehension upon the wholeness of the 
subject. From this point we may then rationally descend to 

Demigods and Supermen 


the consideration of religions, thereby escaping the pitfall o k 
intolerance resulting from basing the study of religion upon a 
religion. When viewed from the exalted level of wholeness, 
such issues as the possible priority of the Presbyterians over the 
Methodists not only become inconsequential, but retire beyond 
the vanishing point of philosophic concern. Yet men whi. 
have termed themselves rational, who have been entrusted by 
their communities with positions of importance and the ad- 
ministration of justice, have waged bloody warfare and un- 
reasonable persecution over such trivialities. Competitiveness 
is thus demonstrated to be natural to parts. Hence the mind 
that thinks in terms of parts makes continual comparison be- 
tween them; whereas the highly evolved intellect, recognizing 
that co-operation through which the parts are caused to form 
the whole, thinks and lives in terms of tolerance and magna- 

Philosophic discipline therefore requires that the intellect be 
rationalized through familiarity with unities, and permitted to 
express its natural amity toward them. Being itself a wholeness, 
the rationality has an affinity for wholeness, and rejoices in its 
contemplation. This rational desire for completeness is op- 
posed, however, by the irrationality of the animal soul. Lim- 
ited to the plane of sense and beholding only diversity, the prin- 
ciple of unity is inconceivable to the animal soul because its na- 
ture and perception function in terms of isolated individualism. 
Stimulated by philosophic discipline, the rational faculties are 
caused to assert their intrinsic preference, thereby inclining the 
entire mental organism toward recognition of the supremacy of 
wholes. Having thus established its preference, the mind 
gradually comes instinctively to function in harmony therewith. 
The result is mental benevolence, which manifests in the outer 
life as that nobility of temperament which irresistibly attracts, 
and is concordant with, the subconscious unity existent in all 
human nature. The nobility of the inclusive intellect is un- 
deniable, and opposition to its conclusions is usually based 
upon cupidity or egotism, for it can never be rationally opposed. 

Another point of major importance is that a mind estab- 
lished upon wholes is never forced to reconstruct its attitudes 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

toward particulars, for these attitudes are continually held in 
suspension. As the mind increases in its knowledge of partic- 
ulars it simply pours them into the capacious wholeness, which 
is always sufficient to include the nature of the parts. As a re- 
sult, it is impossible to outgrow a doctrine or be forced to re- 
construct it; for the mind, moving in certainties, builds in 
from universals and does not arrive at particulars until it is 
capable of recognizing and organizing their diversity. 

In the preceding outline the processes of inductive and de- 
ductive reasoning may appear to be hopelessly confused. Here 
again it must be realized that reason itself is also a wholeness, 
of which induction and deduction are parts. Hence, as Confu- 
cius noted, the positive and negative are never found to be 
totally isolated, so induction always partakes to some degree of 
deduction; while deduction, inclining toward induction, finds 
its opposite essential to the philosophic unity. Induction — which 
is the pure Socratic method— while it reasons from particulars 
to generals, does so with the definite purpose of establishing 
generals. It is possible for the mind to ponder upon particulars 
without emphasizing the quest of wholeness — in fact, partic- 
ulars may be traced toward their own cause without the real- 
ization of wholeness being established; for in this case partic- 
ulars merge into particulars instead of generals, and the entire 
universe continues to be regarded as a mass of particulars rather 
than a wholeness. 

True induction, however, is the quest of wholeness through 
particulars — the decision to establish the rational code in the 
sense of generals. Upon reaching this state the mind has re- 
alized the true end of the Socratic process or the Aristotelian 
mode. On the other hand, having established rationality in 
generals, the mind assumes the Platonic mode and begins to 
reason toward particulars. This procedure ultimately results 
in the establishment of consciousness at a point of equilibrium 
midway between induction and deduction, where both arc 
shown to be contributing factors in the unfoldment of the pro- 
cess of rational thinking. 

Demigods and Supermen 


The natural flow of existence is from the prior to the sub- 
sequent or from the cause to its effect. Pythagoras, however, 
recommended the retrospective mode whereby the subsequent 
is caused to flow back into priority. The mental reactions 
caused by these two processes are far-reaching. To establish a 
cause through its effect awakens a reaction wholly different 
from that created by the picture of a cause flowing into its 
effect. The former is an impulse far more definite than the 
latter, due possibly to the unnatural order which emphasizes 
the intensity of the elements involved. The flow of cause into 
effect is so common as to become monotonous; the mental 
faculties, therefore, become oblivious to the drone of the natural 
or normal sequence. When, however, the process is reversed, 
the mental faculties are startled into activity by the unfamiliar 
—and consequently discordant— note. 

Retrospection is an inductive procedure which, by revealing 
the effect before its cause, emphasizes the enormity of conse- 
quence that can be suspended from the mote of cause. The 
effect of such revelation is to overawe the intellect with the 
sense of responsibility. It demonstrates that though man has a 
certain province for die exercise of despotic agency, he is power- 
less to control the destiny of his fabrications or determine with 
certitude the ends at which his beginnings shall arrive. Man’s 
sphere of influence is as far-reaching as creation, and what we 
first agitate diverges to die shores of eternity like the ripples 
from a stone thrown upon the surface of some placid lake. 
That which we have thus enlivened with our own potentiali- 
ties we can never overtake until at last we mingle with it in 
the Absolute. 

The living are ruled by the dead; the present is ruled by 
the past; and, as Omar Khayyam says, that which the first 
man wrote, the last man shall read. Under the moldering head- 
stone in some obscure churchyard may rot the mortal remains 
of some petty despot whose royal edicts still survive to afflict 
unborn generations with their absurdities. Huge enterprises 
may go awry, yes, empires perish through the insidious con- 
sequences of a few hastily spoken words or a single irrational 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

act. Retrospection warns men so to regulate their thoughts 
and actions that the afterglow of their achievements shall not 
be tinted with a lurid or unnatural hue. Though man loses 
control over the seeds of action which he has sown in the fields 
of space, he is forever the victim of his self-generated conse- 
quences. Those careless in thought or deed will sometime 
curse the Providence that heaps upon them the unwelcome 
fruitage of their own folly and forces them to live in tolerance 
with their own progeny. 

Elsewhere are described (pps. 52, 53) the orders of the gods, 
demigods, supermen, and mortals. Descending from his spirit- 
ual state, man was established in irrationality, a condition from 
which he seeks to escape by inclining himself toward superior 
natures and ascending to the seat of rationality. The gods dif- 
fer from man in that their realization of wholeness or unity is 
intrinsic, and their consciousness is incapable of descending to 
terms of diversity. They are consequently unable to exist, 
think, or feel in terms of particulars, since by virtue of their 
establishment in wholeness they are without the appreciation 
of parts. A simple illustration of this attitude is man himself, 
who finds it difficult to realize the existence of individuality 
within his own nature. He cannot conceive of independent 
cellular or organic function within his own body. He may 
affirm his intellectual belief in the individuality of parts, but 
his consciousness does not supply him with any definite reac- 
tions along this line. As man— the corporeal unit— is incapable 
of descending into and coming cn rapport with the conscious- 
ness of a single cell of his own body, so the gods — or units of 
spiritual consciousness— have no rational perception of the 
diversity suspended from their own natures. 

When we realize the gods to be wholes or unities we can 
better comprehend why they abide in immortality and are 
not subject to dissolution. The dignity of gods over men is 
equal to the superior dignity of wholes over parts. As wholes 
can never be less than wholes, it is evident that the gods cannot 
descend to men; but as parts are capable of being merged into 
wholes, so man is capable of ascending into the presence of the 

Demigods and Supermen 


gods. When he has accomplished this he is immortal— not ab- 
solutely in his own right but in the immortality of the god 
from whom he is suspended. Immortality is consequently the 
merging of a mortal nature with an immortal nature, whereby 
the nature of the immortal is caused to extend and include 
the nature of the mortal. What was formerly impermanent 
thus becomes permanent by its mergence with the nature of 
permanence. Natures become immortal by retiring into their 
own causes; for causes partake of immortality and are prox- 
imate to the One Cause toward which they themselves incline 
to partake of the fullness of Being. Though men (the frac- 
tional parts) come and go and their span is but a little while, 
Man (the principle) endures for an interminable period of 
time. By elevating themselves to wholeness men are able to 
partake of the immortality of their archetype. Thus men and 
women as isolated personalities are not immortal, but their im- 
mortality is assured through their foundation in the causal 

According to the ancients the universe contains, in addition 
to the myriads of natural creatures (who inhabit its inferior 
part and are visible to the perceptions of the normal human 
being) other orders, hierarchies, or species of life beyond the 
perception of the limited faculties now at man’s disposal. 
Socrates declares that there are orders of life which dwell along 
the shores of the air as men dwell along the shores of the sea. 
Dwelling in a subtler stratum, these beings are seldom given to 
contention, but live together in amity, worshiping the gods and 
serving the beautiful. 

To assume the visible to be the all is to deny even the most 
rudimentary instincts of human nature. Mankind dwells in 
a vale, as it were, and on every side rise high mountains which 
obscure from view that which lies beyond. Yet by what right 
shall we deny the existence of broader vistas beyond the cir- 
cumscribing walls of our sense perception? Is it not reason- 
able that the interval between wholeness and diversity is filled 
with a concatenated order of generations— some verging to- 
ward wholeness and proximate to it; others verging toward 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

diversity and filled with its quality? Degrees of wholeness are 
the spiritual impulses which manifest as the various genera 
composing physical life. There are degrees of wholeness re- 
quiring vehicles of expression far more refined than man’s 
bodies, even as there are degrees of diversity, which like the 
grain of sand call for a structure less complicated. 

Arc the gods then to be considered as arbitrary creations, 
or simply the hypothetical divisions erected by philosophy for 
the purpose of classifying the proximity of various natures 
either to their substance or their shadow? Through the cen- 
turies men have pleased to worship gods as proxies of the One 
Indivisible and Omnipotent Nature. Being posterior to the 
One, are not the gods themselves natures? Though elevated to 
divine dignity from their proximity to wholeness, are they not, 
like men, orders of dependencies suspended in the abyss of in- 
terval, there to generate within their abundant natures a num- 
erous progeny which they tolerate and ultimately cause to flow 
back again into themselves? 

Let the contemplation of divine natures, therefore, be ap- 
proached in the spirit of reasonableness, bereft of that awe and 
diffidence which has marked such contemplation in the past. 
Like the Cyclopes, the wholes (or unities) stand regarding 
through their unified perceptions the transcendent nature of 
the First Wholeness. An analysis of the natures of the gods 
is essential to an understanding of human nature; for through 
them we partake of the fullness of all good, and in them is the 
field of both our present labors and our future endeavors. 
Wholeness is not a personality. The gods, therefore, do not 
partake of the attributes of personalities. They are not vengeful 
principles, nor are they inclined to be moved by the piteous 
supplication of the inadequate. Like the carved Rameses of 
Egypt, they sit immovable, sufficient, and all-sufficing. Of their 
immeasurable dignity we may not know all; but through 
philosophic discipline we may equip ourselves to understand, 
in part at least, the magnitude and tranquillity of their abidance. 
Regardless of the degree or dignity of the parts, the wholeness 
from which they themselves are directly suspended is their 

Demigods and Supermen 


God, their Father and their Mother, their beginning and their 
end. Thus the gods are legion. Merging into each other, 
these wholes verge toward their common First Cause; and as 
the gods retire into God, so God, in turn, retires into that 
which was, is, and ever shall be, yet is not. 

The already well emphasized point that the gods are prin- 
ciples rather than personalities is confirmed by the evidence of 
Iamblichus, who attacked the concept popular among the un- 
educated masses that places could be assigned as divine habitats, 
or that certain communities enjoyed the patronage of the celes- 
tials. One of the erroneous beliefs was that Athena Parthenos 
(Minerva) was the guardian spirit of Athens. Iamblichus rea- 
soned thus: As the gods permeate the entire structure of be- 
ing, and as universal are unlimited as to time and place, how 
can any locality be sufficiently privated of their influence to 
require the appointment of a superessential protector? Being 
everywhere at all time and in all place, the gods are inherendy 
omnipresent, nor can their influence be either increased or 
diminished. This theory is the rational foundation upon which 
must yet be erected the structure of universal religion. It un- 
masks the fallacious conceptions of racial or national gods; 
for it demonstrates that although men may differ concerning 
the attributes and number of their divinities— even attempting 
to distribute the universe among various deities — the divine 
principles themselves remain undivided and unchanged, with 
their presence equally common to all men and to all places. 

Iamblichus further likens the celestials and their abiding 
natures to the zodiac and the other heavenly bodies, whose 
influences (according to the astrologers) modeled sidereal na- 
ture into the tangible likenesses of various abstract qualities 
and conditions. As the stars abide in their enduring causes 
and are ever the same, so the gods abide upon their immovable 
thrones; for their unchangeableness is an essential attribute of 
their own divine natures. But as the mutual intermingling of 
the attributes of the abiding stars results in a countless order 
of diversified manifestations, so while the divine natures (the 
gods) remain unchanged, those participating in their manifold 

280 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

virtues assume a variety of aspects to them and, dependent 
upon their proximity (which is measured by rationality) either 
enjoy the benevolent dispositions of these abiding divinities, or 
suffer from the deprivation of these influences. 

These relationships between abiding principles and non- 
abiding personalities are capable of measurement according to 
certain abstract principles, which the ancient philosophers con- 
cealed under the symbolism of Time. These abstract mensura- 
tions (which must never be confused with literal calculations) 
are arcanely designated by the philosophers as the “birthdays 
of the gods.” Deities are said to be “born” at the moment 
when the unfolding rationality of the aspirant first participates 
in their effulgence or comes into harmonious correlation to 
their power. Thus the celebration of the divine birthdays 
does not signify that the deities were actually created upon 
these days; for if actually born they would thereby partake 
of the nature of generation and also be subject to the unstable 
laws of generation and decay. In Christianity, for example, 
although the 25th of December is celebrated as the birthday 
of Christ, even the least informed layman knows that natus solis 
invicti signifies merely the descent of an eternal principle into 
the sphere of temporal agencies where the rationality of man 
may partake of its attributes and qualities. Christ is declared 
to have existed in the presence of the Father before the begin- 
ning of Time, and after his death and resurrection to have 
reascended into the sphere of endurance, there to remain 
throughout all duration unaffected by Time and not subject to 
the laws of incident and change. This concept is in harmony 
with the Platonic theory that the virtue of the immortals lies 
in the fact that they are unborn, having the apex of their period 
of activity posited in undivided unity or (as the Egyptians 
pleased to call it) unaging Time — duration that does not pass. 

In describing how inferior natures, or corporeal constitu- 
tions, become filled with the superabundance of celestial natures 
(thereby partaking of and manifesting the celestial sufficiencies) 
Proclus in his Theurgy, translated by Ficinus in his Excerpta, 
writes in substance as follows: As those who love gradually 

Demigods and Supermen 


advance from the admiration of sensible forms to the admira- 
tion of divine principles, so the initiated priests, discovering 
the sacred truth that all things subsist in all things, advanced 
from this conclusion to the fabrication of the sacred science 
founded upon the principles of mutual sympathy and participa- 
tion. Because of their understanding of the fourth-dimensional 
universe, they realized that as far as the element of place is 
concerned heaven was in the earth and the earth in heaven; 
that principles continually permeate both places and things; 
and that places and things endure their natural span immersed 
in the very substance of principle. Hence, the superior forever 
rules the inferior. Inferiors are ever paying homage to their 
superiors either consciously (as in the case of illumined men) 
or unconsciously (as in the case of the elements), the latter 
voicing their admiration by assuming the appearance and re- 
flecting the attributes of divine qualities. 

Thus, observes Proclus, the sunflower pays homage to the 
solar orb by inclining itself toward the source of its own be- 
ing. A piece of paper, if preheated and then brought close to 
fire, will suddenly burst into flames even though it does not 
actually touch the fire. This is an arcane hint that divine 
natures (the fire) communicate themselves to such corporeal 
bodies (the heated paper) as have rendered themselves capable 
of their reception. The flaming paper further represents the 
deification of mortals whose divinity, by mingling itself with 
the causal flame, vanishes away into its own beginning, leav- 
ing naught behind but the ashes. The lotus also unfolds its 
petals with the ascent of the sun toward the zenith, closing its 
petals when the sun retires to the western corner of the heavens. 
This gesture of the plant is as much a ‘hymn to the sun” as 
the prayers and praise of men. Again, the sunstone imitates 
with its golden rays the luminosity of its namesake. Another 
curious gem, the eye-of-heaven has a form within it which 
resembles the pupil of the human eye and emits a brilliant 
ray. The lunar stone, by certain changes inherent to itself, also 
modifies its rays by the phases of the moon, and the stone 
called hclioselenus changes its color with the celestial moods of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the sun and the moon. By such occult means do irrational 
natures manifest the abundance of superessential virtue im- 
parted to them out of the fullness of divine natures. (For 
further details consult the notes at the end of the 1821 Edition 
of Thomas Taylor’s translation of lamblichus on The Mysteries 
of the Egyptians , Chaldeans and Assyrians.) 

As previously suggested, the virtue of the gods springs from 
their abundant unity. It is a Platonic axiom that “the principal 
(chief) subsistence of everything is according to the summit 
of its essence,” In other words, all bodies and constitutions 
are to be measured by the dignity of their first principles or 
natures; for this principle is the true measure of the capacity 
and limitation of the thing suspended from it, because no thing 
can become greater than its source. To mingle with superiors 
it must cease, therefore, in its own nature. Emerging from the 
indivisible unity or wholeness, the gods thus partake of the 
virtue of this their summit. They, accordingly, differ from 
man in that while man has for his apex the rational mind, the 
gods flow downward toward rationality from a far more ex- 
alted sphere. Philosophy is a discipline which impels all ac- 
tivities to flow toward their own causal principle. Its chief 
province, therefore, is to restore all natures to their origins and 
thus accomplish the perfection of natures; for that is perfect 
which has been accepted back into the fullness of its own unity. 

Among the most mysterious symbols employed by the Egyp- 
tians were two pyramids united at their apexes, ope inverted 
and the other upright, to signify the interchange of divine and 
natural powers. While this particular symbol has already been 
briefly discussed, it will not be out of order to amplify the 
previous description. The inverted pyramid, with its founda- 
tion in the superior sphere, they termed inspiration ; the up- 
right, with its foundation upon the inferior sphere, they termed 
aspiration. Hence both of these forces commingle in natures. 
From the inferior the urge of the rational disciplines is toward 
the elevation of natures; from the superior (which is an at- 
tracting agency) the urge of inspiration is ascent toward divine 
perfections. If the symbol be closely examined we become 

Demigods and Supermen 


aware of a more archaic meaning; for recognizing the pyramids 
as flowing from their own apexes, we discover that the central 
point from which both diverge is the abiding place of the 
superiors. From this superior point one pyramid — usually 
shown as dark — flows upward, its color signifying the occult 
nature of its properties which must forever remain dark and 
mysterious to the intellections of unillumined mortals. The 
second pyramid flows downward, becoming the tangible uni- 
verse which is luminous to the many and susceptible of a cer- 
tain degree of analysis by even those who are unenlightened. 

These two pyramids represent, therefore, the duad existing 
within and flowing from the monad-polarity manifesting out 
of simple unity, through which manifestation the universe came 
into being. Between the unseen sphere of principles above and 
the visible sphere of personalities below is a ceaseless inter- 
change of activities. Separateness being the law of personalities 
and unity the law of principles, it is evident that while each 
body occupies some place, each principle occupies every place. 
All principles are therefore capable of manifesting in each body. 
Upon this fact was based the philosophic deduction that place 
is of relatively small importance in matters pertaining to the 
higher sciences. Socrates was once accosted by a seeker after 
truth, who asked him where could be found the best place in 
which to learn. The great Skeptic instantly replied: “Where 
thou art;’’ for, whereas the learner was in place, learning was 
everywhere. The two consequently awaited the unifying effect 
of rationality, which when present links place with everywhere. 

Theology particularly has become a servant to the concept 
of place. Among nearly all religious peoples it is a common 
practice to sanctify places of worship and be in attendance at 
the performance of certain holy offices in such places. The 
tombs of the saints are also hallowed, and there is a widespread 
veneration for sacred objects of every description. A visit to 
Jerusalem will demonstrate the influence wielded by such ven- 
eration for place. Here every pebble is more venerable than a 
boulder elsewhere, and even the filth spreads piety instead of 
plague! Theology also limits the mind to the concept of time 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

as a factor in religious place. Witness the “holy days” when 
prayer is presumed to have especial efficacy and the celestial 
hierarchies are said to be peculiarly receptive to the whining 
importunities of men. Assembly for the common purpose of 
worship may confer certain ethical and sociological virtues— 
for instance, by inspiring the courage born of numbers— but 
little importance can be attached to the practice if viewed 
from the standpoint of spirit. In the terms of pure metaphys- 
ical philosophy, the gods as causal agencies are both omnipresent 
and omniscient. Free from time and place, above condition, 
and incapable of such purely mundane concepts as pleasure or 
displeasure, they flow unimpeded through the many dimen- 
sional vistas of eternity. If would-be reformers can correct the 
theological absurdity that the gods are localized like the 
weather, systematized like industry or dispositioned like ward 
politicians, there is still hope for the religious instincts of the 

Plutarch of Chaeroneia, one of the early Gnostic Fathers, in 
his Vision of Aridaeus, describes an excursion made by a be- 
nighted soul into the realm of Hades, where with the aid of 
the “single (or psychic) eye” he perceived many things with 
greater clarity than is the fortune of most mortals. Aridaeus 
(the man who had the vision) is supposed to have died and 
found himself in a great sea of light, “of objects with which 
he had been previously familiar, he saw none save the stars; 
they were, however, of stupendous size and at enormous dis- 
tances from one another, and poured forth a marvellous radi- 
ance of colour and sound, so that the soul riding smoothly in 
the light, as a ship in calm weather, sailed easily and swiftly 
in every direction. Omitting most of the things he saw, he 
said that the souls of the dead, in passing from below upwards, 
formed a flame-like bubble from which the air was excluded; 
then the bubble quietly broke, and they came forth with men- 
like forms and well-knit frames” (See The Vision of Arid crus, 
translated by G. R. S. Mead.) 

Compiled during the first century of the Christian Era, this 
curious allegory is of particular interest to the modern student 

Demigods and Supermen 


of Platonic philosophy; for the bubble-like souls with flaming 
luminosity that flowed past Aridaeus represent the spheres of 
isolation within which the rational nature must remain during 
the period of irrationality — that is, before the one hears the call 
of the All and chooses to mingle its destiny with the common 
cause. This “flame-like bubble*’ constitutes the interval between 
man as the partly-illumined creature and the gods as divine po- 
tentialities. Although man exists in these god essences, he 
cannot be united with these infinite certainties until he causes 
this bubble to “quietly break.” This is a direct allusion to the 
rites of the Mysteries, and we suspect that Plutarch wrote not 
of the after-death state but of that secret ritualism whereby the 
dead soul in a living body is liberated to the contemplation of 
divinities. As institutions of illumination, the Mysteries arc 
agencies appointed to prick the bubble of self-conceit that 
envelopes the average soul, and thereby renders it impervious 
to divine ministrations. 

The well-formed bodies seen by Aridaeus coming forth out 
of the broken bubbles represent the organized rationalities 
which arc manifested after the consciousness has been liberated 
from the inferior sphere — that iridescent world which, mirror- 
like, shows man only the reflection of himself, leaving him 
unaware of the Great Within in the nature of which he floats. 
The sea of luminosity in which the soul floats like a ship re- 
presents the causal universe whose divine agencies, manifesting 
first as colors and sounds, mingle in an exotic symphonic pro- 
fusion. Aridaeus also declares that in this luminous world he 
felt as though he was breathing all over, for his whole body 
was filled with a life-giving air that gave the sense of buoyancy 
and freedom from every oppression of matter. Air is the an- 
cient and secret symbol of rationality, and represents the in- 
tangible illumined mind that is declared to be absent from the 
contents of the bubbles (the symbols of irrationality). The 
free air of the spirit comes to relieve man when he is willing 
to renounce the oppressed atmosphere of the body. This is 
the secret of the “enthusiasm” of the ancient Mysteries— the 
ecstasy that came upon those who “breathed in” the gods— for 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

by divine enthusiasm was signified unity with God, as the word 
itself implies (en theos, in God.) Those who were in the na- 
ture and consciousness of Cause thus ceased to move of their 
own accord, but their frantic gyrations were regarded as evi- 
dence that a divine spirit was agitating and mingling them 
with universals. 

When Socrates declared that where thou art is the place to 
learn he thereby revealed the universality of Cause. The fact 
that all men do not actively partake of the all-permeating learn- 
ing implies a barrier between learning and the learner; be- 
tween life and the living; between the good and those who 
strive for virtue. This barrier is the quality interval referred 
to in the preceding chapter, to be overcome only by the disci- 
plines of the Mysteries; for alone and unaided, men cannot 
sufficiently organize their internal natures to achieve this most 
necessary end. The gods are presumed to be superior to these 
intervals of quality, and hence mingle not only with each other 
but each with All in a perfect unity. With few exceptions 
pagan philosophic systems discovered that man exists within 
the opalescent globe now termed the auric egg, or soul en- 
velope. This auric egg (its lower sheaths at least) totally 
isolates man from the rest of the universe, admitting through 
its poles only sufficient of the Universal Agent to maintain 
him in his isolated embryonic individualism; for this auric 
egg is the womb in which the prenatal life of mortality is 

As long as he remains an individual, man is ^n embryo; 
as long as he is in this embryonic state he is a mortal; and as 
long as he is a mortal he must exemplify the mortal principle 
of separateness. While he may fit together with the other 
parts so as to form a comb-like fabric, he can never actually 
mingle his own nature with that of any other creature. Men 
mix with each other as oil mixes with water; but the gods 
mingle as oils for all have the same essential base. Divinity, 
exemplifying similars, forever mingles with itself; humanity, 
exemplifying dissimilars, may be brought together, yet a cer- 
tain separateness inevitably remains as long as humanness re- 

Demigods and Supermen 


mains. It is because man is separate from man that he is not 
a god. To the degree that he overcomes the sense of separate- 
ness he overcomes his humanness and rises to the state of im- 
mortality — a state in which he comes proximate to the gods, 
converses with the immortals, and beholds those great Causal 
Principles which, like mighty pillars, sustain the universe in 
its appointed place. 


the Divine* Souf WK^T^If 6 c *^ rc *^ ow ” centered as a radiant power denomin* 1 
remains unbroken- but k 'u^° U maintains its equilibrium, spiritual consciou*® 
Elusion ^ toward the fttrSnea is created « 

irrational souls at positive and negative poles. 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 

T N every human nature abides a Cyclopean self with whom, 
A at long intervals, the mortal part of man communes. With 
this thought is introduced a new phase of Greek metaphysical 
speculation. The instructors in the Mysteries declared that at 
birth each individual was assigned an invisible patron spirit 
called the natal daemon . This entity was analogous to the 
totem of the North American Indians, except that the totem 
was invoked by prayer and fasting, while the daemon-being 
coexistent with the generating soul itself— became, as it were, 
the identity of the senses. By some this natal daemon was con- 
sidered the personified aggregate of past experiences or the 
summation of previous lives; it was synonymous with the 
instinctive impulse-nature— that inevitable product of existences 
which stands behind and urges the issues of the outer life. 
This natal daemon is the composite self; the sum of countless 
previous selves; the personality compounded of multiple per- 
sonalities; the thinking, feeling, and actuating sensory organ- 
ism of material urge; the superphysical by-product of temporal 
achievement. The natal daemon is the god who protects the 
fool, making it impossible for man to actually undo himself 
beyond redemption. It is the patron saint of the outer life; the 
intuitively sensed superiority; the intangible authority by which 
mortal man is given courage to assert his participation in a 
divine energy. According to the Egyptians the natal daemon 
is created by the converging celestial ravs at the time of nativity. 

It becomes the intangible cause of dispositions, and through 
its agencies two individuals, though similarly organized, neither 
think nor feel the same, but work out their diverging des- 
tinies motivated by this part. 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

“Plato,” writes Apuleius on the God of Socrates , “asserts 
that a peculiar daemon is allotted to every man, who is a witness 
and a guardian of his conduct in life, who, without being 
visible to any one, is always present, and who is an arbitrator 
not only of his deeds, but also of his thoughts. But when, life 
being finished, the soul returns [to the judges of its conduct], 
then the daemon who presided over it immediately seizes, and 
leads it as his charge to judgment, and is there present with 
it while it pleads its cause. Hence, this daemon reprehends 
it, if it has acted on any false pretence; solemnly confirms what 
it says, if it asserts any thing that is true; and conformably to 
its testimony passes sentence. All you, therefore, who hear this 
divine opinion of Plato, as interpreted by me, so form your 
minds to whatever you may do, or to whatever may be the 
subject of your meditation, that you may know there is nothing 
concealed from those guardians either within the mind, or 
external to it; but that the daemon who presides over you in- 
quisitively participates of all that concerns you, sees all things, 
understands all things, and in the place of conscience dwells in 
the most profound recesses of the mind. For he of whom I 
speak is a perfect guardian, a singular prefect, a domestic 
speculator, a proper curator, an intimate inspector, an assiduous 
observer, an inseparable arbiter, a reprobater of what is evil, 
an approver of what is good; and if he is legitimately attended 
to, sedulously known, and religiously worshipped, in the way 
in which he was reverenced by Socrates with justice and 
innocence, will be a predictor in things uncertain, a premonitor 
in things dubious, a defender in things dangerous, and an 
assistant in want. He will also be able, by dreams, by tokens, 
and perhaps also manifestly, when the occasion demands it, to 
avert from you evil, increase your good, raise your depressed, 
support your falling, illuminate your obscure, govern your 
prosperous, and correct your adverse circumstances.” 

The natal daemon is declared by Olympiodorus to be the 
supreme flower of the soul, for it is the blossoming of soul 
qualities. To a certain extent the soul is generated from the 
interplay of action and reaction in the sphere of sense. The 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 


soul is the garment woven from the threads of incident; the 
natal daemon is consciousness bom of experience— the realiza- 
tion begotten of necessity. The natal daemon is the diamond 
soul, the transmutation of corporeality into incorporeality, the 
regeneration of bodily quantities into bodiless qualities; for 
the natal daemon is the wholeness of consciousness which 
must ever result from the co-ordination of heterogeneous parts. 
In the terms of mathematics die natal daemon is the spirit of 
the number 6, which is invoked by the coming together of six 
monads and is inseparable from them as long as they continue 
to constitute a unit or wholeness. The natal daemon must 
therefore be regarded as the consciousness of the senses con- 
ceived as a monad and established at the summit of the pyramid 
of sense, from whence it flows downward to tincture with that 
understanding based upon experience the entire structure of 
the corporeal perceptions. The philosophers declared that a 
natal daemon, or familiar , is assigned to every man, with whom 
it remains until the rational soul, having been elevated above 
the sphere of the senses and having achieved comparative 
illumination, turns to the contemplation of superessential veri- 
ties. Upon one who had achieved this distinction the Greeks 
conferred the appellation of hero. 

A hero was one who had heroically turned from the con- 
templation of the temporal to the contemplation of the eternal, 
and consequently was dedicated to the service of the gods. 
Gazing rapturously upon the faces of the Ungenerated Ones, 
the heroes verged toward certain divinities with more ardor 
than to others, thus expressing the innate preferences of their 
dispositions. The heroes, therefore, were divided among the 
orders of the gods, each serving his own preference and by 
degrees coming to be identified with the qualities of his chosen 
deity. As the gods themselves are incapable of descending into 
the corporeal sphere, they incline toward it through their 
vassals, the heroes. As a result certain men have come to be 
revered as divine incarnations and the creative principles ven- 
erated under their similitudes. Unable to discern that the 
hero is not a god, the nonphilosophic have befogged the issues 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

of theology, with the result that men have become the wor- 
shippers of men and have propitiated mortal heroes before 
the superessential gods. 

While ordinary mortals, being as yet rationally unawakened, 
depend largely upon their natal daemon, the heroes— or those 
already approaching liberation — are the beneficiaries of a more 
exalted genius, denominated the essential daemon . The Father- 
Star of the Neoplatonists is this essential daemon, into whose 
nature the natal daemon has been merged by a process in 
which the lesser is mingled with the greater, and their issues 
become one. The essential daemon is unapproachable by him 
who is still a servant to his sense perceptions. Nor can the 
essential daemon descend into man, but as a Silent Watcher 
must brood over the irrational soul until, emerging from its 
chrysalis of materiality, it spreads its spiritual wings and soars 
swiftly to the source of its own light. 

In Homer’s Odyssey , Ulysses is revealed to be a mortal 
aspiring to the estate of a hero, which end he attains by his 
perilous voy agings through the seas of temporal uncertainty. 
As the senses must be mastered before that which is above 
the senses can be liberated, one of the labors of Ulysses was 
the blinding of the Cyclops. This giant signified Ulysses’ 
own natal daemon — his self-will — whose power must be de- 
stroyed before divine will could be seated in its place. The 
Cyclops is, therefore, a monster of the astral light, the shadowy 
giant who abides amid the shadows of man’s own being and 
whose “single eye” is the pineal gland— the only organ with 
which he discerns the outer universe. But it is possible for the 
eye of the natal daemon to see two ways. By turning inward 
it ceases to serve the Cyclops, and fixes its gaze upon the 
splendid features of the essential daemon who, abiding in the 
sphere of pure intellection, is the Father-Star— the Pole-Star by 
which the mariner of life steers the bark of his own soul into 
the safe harbor of divine perfection. 

The philosophy of daemons is the outgrowth of man’s 
natural veneration for the rationality manifest in every order 

Emerson 's Concept of the Oversoul 


of life and form. The very clouds scudding across the sky 
exist by virtue of the intercession of rational intelligence, and 
upon fulfillment of their destiny are dissipated by the activity 
of this selfsame intelligence. A peculiar Providence equips 
every organism with the instruments of its own survival. The 
plant’s vital seed is protected by a stalwart husk, and the life 
of the Crustacea by its defensive shell. The urge that causes 
irrational nature to act in a rational manner we call instinct . 
To the ancient philosopher, however, the flowering of plants, 
the propagation of species, the tinting of rocks and crystals, 
the motions of the elements, and the emotions of the soul-all 
these were regarded alike as evidence of the presence of invisible 
but powerful spirits (daemons) who, seated in the causal nature 
of the manifesting sphere, guided primitive lives to the fulfill- 
ment of the predestined ends of uinversal procedure. 

Some of these daemons are analogous to the elemental spirits 
of Paracelsus, with whose characteristics the great Swiss physi- 
cian was made familiar by Arabian sorcerers. Recognizing all 
diversified activities to be suspended from causal unities, the 
philosopher of antiquity realized that while green, for example, 
dominates the color scheme of numberless organisms, green 
is itself a monad or unity, its intrinsic nature being coetaneous 
with a rational daemon. The orderly or rational distribution 
of green is thus effected through the ministrations of this guard- 
ian spirit, which is synonymous with the very nature of green 
itself. To attribute rationality to a tube of pigment at first 
may appear to be a baseless concept. Those who have experi- 
mented most with colors realize, however, that they have an 
inherent orderliness and are very much alive, possessing the 
power to excite pleasure or displeasure, and through their 
intermingling to demonstrate various complexions of universal 
order. As the salamander is born by the very friction that 
ignites the sulphur match, so a daemon is spontaneously pro- 
duced through every combination of forces, substances, or cir- 
cumstances, becoming the patron of such combinations and 
remaining with them until divine procedure returns these 
combinations to their original simplicity. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The belief in guardian spirits is a very lofty one when the 
unfolding rationality of man permits him to regard these en- 
tities as ever beautiful and virtuous. On the other hand, un- 
tutored peoples consider these transcendental entities to be in- 
nately malevolent, conspiring against human beings and seek- 
ing to spread sorrow and mischief throughout the world. 
The idealism of the Greek aestheticians enabled them to recog- 
nize divine agency in all that was beautiful, in that divinities 
rejoiced in the harmonious combinations of substances and 
circumstances. Accordingly, a place of beauty must needs be 
the dwelling of a thing of beauty. In somber groves dwelt 
grave dryades formed of the soft shadow that lingered there; 
in the high-flung spray of waterfalls nymphs disported them- 
selves, while diminutive but pompous gnomes industriously 
hoarded beechnuts against the possibility of seven lean years. 
Though these creatures were invisible to the normal sight, man 
was conscious of their presence. They were indeed creations of 
place— the products of environment and necessary to the set- 
ting of the picture. All these creatures are daemons of different 
orders; for there are not only vast spirits whose bodies are 
stars, but daemons so small that they seek the shelter of toad- 
stools or play hide-and-seek among the blades of grass. The 
daemon is the spirit of feeling that is born of, and is inseparable 
from, the circumstance that gives it birth. It is the preserver 
of universal order in the lesser, the untiring minister to parts, 
the protector and patron of unfolding life. 

Just what relation, then, does the Oversoul of Emerson bear 
to the God of Socrates, that strange yet exalted spirit which 
impelled the Athenian commoner to a martyr’s end? Emerson, 
the Occidental Orientalist, thus defines what he conceives to 
be that common oversoul of whose nature we all partake, and 
which is the common measure of us all: “The Supreme critic 
on all the errors of the past and the present, and the only 
prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which 
we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; 
that Unity, that Over-Soul, within which every man’s particular 
being is contained and made one with all other; that common 

Emerson's Concept op the Oversoul 


heart, of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which 
all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which 
confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to 
pass for what he is, and to speak from his character and not 
from his tongue; and which evermore tends and aims to pass 
into our thought and hand, and become wisdom, and virtue, 
and power, and beauty.” 

It is a philosophic axiom that as we verge toward Cause we 
verge toward simplicity, and as we depart from Cause we 
incline toward complexity; for all things are simple in their 
beginnings, complex in their midmost parts, and simple again 
in their ends. As man passes from childishness through 
maturity to childishness, so life (according to the doctrines of 
Herbert Spencer) is from simple homogeneity to complex heter- 
ogeneity and from heterogeneity back again to homogeneity. 
Approach to simplicity, then, presumes an ever-decreasing 
number of parts, until ultimate simplicity is utter privation of 
partition. Emerson clearly senses the common unity of Cause 
—that vast Monad which is our common parent and whose 
sufficiency is the one noble Reality. This is indeed the Great 
Daemon, the Supreme Soul invoked by existence, whose minis- 
trations we manifest in common and whose edicts are the code 
of our lives. As we increase in rationality we become diffused 
among or enter into the inner nature of an ever-increasing 
number of organisms, thereby becoming capable of knowing 
and feeling the impulses which actuate these organizations. 
Thus Man became the Ovcrsoul of men— the Adam, or arche- 
typal one from whom issue the many; the Protogonas from 
whose nature as from the pores of the skin come forth the 
“sweat-born” and the establishment of generations. 

Thus Man — the Ovcrsoul— is the anthropos , or daemoniacal 
spirit which is the common father of infinite progeny; the 
vast sphere of influence which men can never escape, but 
which is their allness and against the sovereignty of which 
they vainly struggle, ignorant of the fact that it is their common 
life. The Oversoul alone is Man, for men are but fractional 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

parts of themselves and are never complete until all together 
form one grand nature. Therefore, while all men differ in 
their outer lives, in their inner life there is this common ground 
whereon all stand together and upon which they must erect 
the citadel of their strength. Only to the dreamer, who sees 
not with his eyes, but with his soul, is the dignity of the 
anthropos apparent; only the mystic can comprehend that vast 
being which towers above the puny sensibilities of mortals and 
from the lofty place broods over the body of its sovereignty. 
This anthropos exceeds men to the degree that the whole ex- 
ceeds its parts, for each part contributes to the sufficiency of 
the sum. 

The Neoplatonists differed from the Egyptians in their 
definition of the anthropos — or the nature of the all-containing 
self— when related to the status of men. According to one 
group, all of man descends into the sphere of generation, there 
to wander for a given time in the confusion of sense, and later 
by rational procedure to escape therefrom and reascend to the 
sphere of spiritual sufficiency. The more profound philosophies, 
however, declared that the ungenerate can never actually gen- 
erate, nor can that which abides in the contemplation of per- 
fection ever become immersed in the delusions of mortality. 
While the inferior nature of man, suspended from its monadic 
cause, may thus struggle for a brief period in the darkness of 
the moral sphere, the true self remains throughout this period 
in the presence of perfect order and adequate comprehension. 
According to this viewpoint all of man does not descend into 
the realm of his corporeal limitations, but rather broods over 
the incarnating part, and from its own state of detachment 
contemplates the attachments which involve the inferior self. 
Thus man is more than man; he is like the oft-employed simile 
of the iceberg, of which only a fractional part of its great bulk 
is visible. This invisible greatness of man — unmoved and un- 
involved, and residing in the pure rationality of the supreme 
sphere — is termed the “Silent Watcher,” the Atman who is the 
true man, and of whom the lesser part becomes increasingly 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 


aware as it ceases to be conscious in its animal part. In this 
manner is man, the comparative physical nonentity, suspended 
from Man, the actual spiritual immensity. Is it not this over- 
brooding divinity which man senses when he explores the 
depths of his own feeling and seeks to measure the magnitude 
of his intellect? Is it not this transcendent superpersonal one 
who is the true substance of man’s hope and the body of his 

Picture, then, the mortal nature of man who, obscured by 
the insufficiency of his physical perceptions and crawling worm- 
like upon the surface of earth, dares to believe in his own 
thoughts and assume the reasonableness of his own conten- 
tions. Then conceive the blind mortality which men call life 
to be directed by a great and observing spirit which, grasping 
the lesser life by the hand, gently leads it toward comprehen- 
sion and realization. Imagine that behind the little you at 
all times stands the greater You— -majestic, illumined, magnif- 
icent— who communicates to the earthiness which is your 
mortal body a splendor more than sufficient, and through 
whose greatness the little you is made partaker of the greatness 
and goodness of all things. This is the anthropos , the Heavenly 
Man, the Supreme Manu, from whose presence man departs 
for his terrestrial wandering in the prodigal’s sphere. 

While Emerson conceives this soul to be within man, in 
philosophy we prefer to conceive of man as within this soul. 
As through philosophy we increase the dimensions of our 
internal selves, we gradually annihilate the interval between our 
human souls and this Oversoul. Our internal selves take on 
the stature of this nobler part until, though our body be still 
of mortal size, the scope of expanding consciousness becomes 
tions of inspiration. We then understand the qualities which 

298 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

inspired Emerson to pen these words: “The soul looketh steadi- 
ly forward, creating a world always before her, and leaving 
worlds always behind her. She has no dates, no rites, nor 
persons, nor specialities, nor men. The soul knows only the 
soul. Ail else is idle weeds for her wearing.” 

We now turn to a more detailed consideration of the in- 
trinsic nature of the soul and the position it occupies in the 
composite structures of both man and the universe. As already 
defined, the soul is the first and chief of the generations. It 
abides in its own essence at the apex of the pyramid of form. 
If the soul, then, be a generation and not an eternal principle, 
of what is it generated and why is it superior to other genera- 
tions? That which is generated receives its life from another. 
Having had this active agent once imparted to it, it is thence- 
forth capable of separation therefrom. On the other hand, an 
un generated being— because its life is inherent — must ever 
abide in that life and that life in it, and hence is incapable of 
dissolution. Being a generation, the soul must consequently 
be included under the classification of bodies. Yet it is differ- 
ent from bodies; for being the chief of diem, it possesses a 
fullness of virtues which exceeds the fullness of any other 
body. Of inferiors, then, the soul is the superior, and by virtue 
of its disposition occupies a midmost place between abiding 
life and unabiding form. As the physical man is clothed in 
a vehicle composed of the objectification and substantial counter- 
part of his superphysical corporeal impulses, so an invisible 
body generated of attributes too subtle to assume physical aspect 
envelopes the spiritual part as with an appropriate robe. Virtue, 
for example, is irreducible to physical perceptions. Seated, 
however, in the invisible nature, it manifests as an intangible 
and definite attribute of the self. Man is as surely clothed in 
the garments of virtue as he is in the garments of the physical; 
they are vehicles of his expression no less real than are the 
members formed of bone, flesh, or sinew. 

Besides the physical, man is the owner of many bodies, in- 
visible however to those whose perceptions are limited solely 
to the earthly senses. Each of these bodies is the vehicle of 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 299 

definite potentialities which are slowly being manifested 
through appropriate organisms. Man lives in many worlds 
simultaneously, but of this fact he is unaware until he comes 
to realize that every phase of his temperament attunes him to 
a different level of universal activity. A concatenated chain 
of vehicles extends upward from the dense physical organism 
to the attenuated superphysical organism of the soul. These 
bodies originally issued forth from the soul and to the soul 
they must return — or rather, we should say their essences verge 
— for soul existed before bodies and shall endure after bodies 
have ceased to be. Yet the soul is profoundly influenced by its 
bodies, and its nature is subjected to change by the reactions 
of bodily conditions. As the proper monad of bodies, the soul 
causes to issue out from its own being all that is inferior to 
itself. And by the same course that dominated their issuance, 
the soul reabsorbs these selfsame bodies back again into its 
own essence; for by this reabsorption is the perfection of bodies 
consummated. Man cannot enter into the presence of Reality 
while still invested with body, for body can never contemplate 
the bodiless, form the formless, or the generated the ungener- 
ated, As bodies, forms, and generations are thus transmuted 
into soul (more correctly, reabsorbed into the soul substance) 
man creates for himself a new and more subtle garment— a 
luminous sheath, a bodiless body, a form verging toward the 
formless, by which it is enabled to contemplate formlessness 
with comprehension. The soul, then, is the all-sufficient body; 
it is form elevated to the vanishing point; it is nature retired 
into its own apex and thus rendered capable of contemplating 
its own cause. Through progressive sublimation bodies are 
caused to retire from their own materiality and incline them- 
selves toward that spirituality from which they derived their 
actuating principle. 

If the fruitage of physical experience were apprehensible 
by the physical nature alone, then life would be but a span 
of useless suffering, for the deed would perish with the doer 
and the self be left as impecunious as before. Though every 
tangible evidence of physical achievement must be discarded 

300 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

by the decarnating spirit, yet there is carried forward into the 
invisible a subtle substance or pabulum extracted from incident 
and assimilable by the soul nature. Every incident, every ex- 
perience, every conclusion of the physical life has its own 
soul nature, to be extracted therefrom by a strange distillation. 
The vapors thus distilled are inhaled by the soul even as the 
physical body subsists upon the material atmosphere. The 
distilled essence of incident thus becomes the essential nutri- 
ment of the soul, and the experiences of life are ultimately 
metamorphosed into soul qualities, becoming psychical urges 
and influences by which the outer nature is inclined hither 
and thither. 

As polarity exists throughout the sphere of generation, it 
follows that the soul itself though intrinsically a monad, must 
manifest through the duad— -the positive and negative channels 
of expression. The soul is accordingly symbolized as two crea- 
tures: one a beautiful and radiant spirit subsisting upon the 
manifesting virtues of the life; the other an evil and rebellious 
spirit fostered by every unworthy thought or deed. These two 
guard the mystic gate between the outer and the inner self; 
for, as the soul, they are the portal through which the polar 
forces of cause and effect pass in mutual exchange. The 
radiant soul fashioned from the very substance of achievement 
becomes the animating principle of intuition; for what is in- 
tuition but a kind of memory in which particulars are forgotten 
but principles remembered ? The mind may lack the power to 
reason through, and the outer nature be uninformed regarding 
the solution of perplexing problems. But based upon ages of 
endeavor, intuition unerringly points out the law of probability; 
for by virtue of ripe experience it inclines with more certitude 
than the reason, and with more discretion than the thinking 
but inexperienced personality. 

The evil part of the soul speaks also, and its voice is con- 
science. Conscience is the still, small voice of unremembered 
suffering which, long vanished from the conscious mind, yet 
lives in the deeper recesses of the nature, where it warns of 
impending catastrophe and whispers to such as will listen the 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 


standards of right and wrong as established by experience. 
Men and women of normal intelligence never commit wrong 
deeds which they do not know are wrong before their com- 
mission. We may dissemble or feign ignorance, but all too 
often we realize that we lie even while we speak. The mentor 
of ages dwells within, and irrespective of our pretensions its 
words are audible to our inner selves. What is that accusing 
self from which the malefactor can never escape and which 
hounds the evil-doer to the bitter end? It is the soul. Living 
its own life consistent with the principle of Truth, the soul will 
never let us rest until our outer lives are rendered harmonious 
with the code within. Why are some happy, though sur- 
rounded by all manner of misfortune and sorely oppressed by 
offending circumstances? Because the soul, satisfied with the 
behavior of the life, bestows the sense of satisfaction upon these 
outer sensibilities so keenly vexed by an unkind Providence. 
The all-sufficing realization of accomplishment flows from the 
soul, and like the balm of Gilead assuages the torments of 
the material Tartarus. The persecuted parts are imbued with 
fresh courage and conviction, and given new strength to meet 
every emergency. On the other hand, why are so many who 
are fully blessed with this world’s goods, and possessors of all 
that should bestow happiness and tranquility so miserable, so 
abject, so afraid? Because the soul, dissatisfied, refuses to 
allow an outer complacency to silence its accusations. When 
man’s soul thus convicts him of misdirected living, there is no 
tribunal to which he can appeal for mitigation of his offence. 

Shall we then wonder that the Greeks declared conscience 
to be a daemon that eternally whispers in the ear of the mind, 
and intuition a guardian deity that can conduct the life through 
the perils of the physical universe? Intuition and conscience 
are the tangible expressions of the intangible soul by which 
man is made to realize that from every act a residue remains 
which shall influence his doing unto the end of time. Nothing 
that we accomplish is lost; nothing that we achieve is forgot- 
ten; for while the particulars may vanish away, the principles 
involved arc interwoven into the fabric of an invisible vestment 

302 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

that clothes the self in the ample folds of experience, and 
insures that spirit shall never be without a counselor, or life 
without a patron. 

We have already set forth the triform constitution of the 
Divine Agent who through the One, the Beautiful, and the 
Good creates, preserves, and destroys the innumerable orders 
of beings. Apuleius, in The Metamorphosis , sets forth in alle- 
gorical terms the inner mystery of the soul. The legend of 
Cupid and Psyche existed, however, prior to the time of Apu- 
leius, being preserved inviolate by the philosophers lest a pro- 
fane world desecrate the sacred truths. 

A king and queen had three daughters (so the story goes), 
of whom the youngest, Psyche, was of such surpassing beauty 
that mortals paid her a homage that elevated her above the 
dignity of even Venus herself. The indignant goddess of beauty 
thereupon dispatched her winged son, Cupid, to humble the 
pride of Psyche by infusing her with a passion for some gross 
and unnatural being. Invisible to mortals, Cupid entered the 
apartment of Psyche to carry out his mother’s mission, but 
became so enamoured of the beautiful maiden that he repented 
of his role and schemed to win Psyche for himself. 

Suffering from the enmity of Venus, Psyche found no love 
among mankind, and in obedience to an oracle which declared 
that she would never be the bride of a mortal lover but that 
her husband would be a monster whom neither gods nor 
man could resist, she ascended the mountain upon which it 
was decreed she should await the coming of her unnatural 
bridegroom. As she stood upon the mountain top the god 
Zephyr picked her up and bore her into a flowery flale, in the 
midst of which stood a grove of tall and stately trees and a 
magnificent palace which was not the work of mortal hands. 
TTie palace roof was supported by gilded columns, and the 
walls were ornamented with tracing of beasts and strange crea- 
tures. Vast treasures of gold and jewels were also gathered 
there, and Psyche was served by invisible attendants who grati- 
fied her slightest wish. 

Emerson’s Concept of the Oversoul 


Psyche never saw her husband, who came only at night 
and departed before dawn. She begged him to permit her to 
look upon his face, but he declared that she must be content 
with his love and never try to see him. Desirous of putting at 
rest the worries of her family Psyche sent for her two sisters, 
and these, jealous of her fortune, incited her to make an effort 
to see her husband. So one night when he was asleep she lit 
a lamp, and carrying a knife with which to slay the evil 
monster described by the oracle, stole into her husband’s bed- 
chamber and discovered him to be Cupid, the son of Venus, 
and the most beautiful of all the gods. As she stood watching 
him a drop of hot oil fell upon his body, and awakened by the 
pain Cupid spread his downy wings and fled through the win- 
dow, sorrowfully reminding Psyche that love cannot dwell with 

The palace thereupon vanished and Psyche found herself 
in a field near her father’s city. Broken-hearted, she began a 
quest for her lost lover, first seeking the help of Ceres who 
suggested that if she go humbly to Venus and surrender to her 
dictates she might regain Cupid’s love. Desiring the discom- 
fiture of Psyche, however, Venus made a servant of her, setting 
her almost impossible tasks which Psyche in every instance 
accomplished with the assistance of sympathetic gods. Her 
first task was to separate a vast quantity of mixed grains; her 
second, to gather golden fleece from a large flock of vicious 
rams; and her third, to descend into Hades and bring back 
from Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, a casket filled 
with beauty. 

Still inquisitive, however, Psyche opened the casket in spite 
of the warning given her by the tower god who had aided her 
in the adventure. Instead of being filled with beauty the cas- 
ket contained a Stygian sleep which loosed from the box, over- 
came Psyche so that she fell unconscious on the path. Cupid, 
coming to her rescue, returned the sleep to the box, and inter- 
ceding with Jupiter for her hand, both hnally reconciled Venus 
to the match. Psyche was then given a cup of heavenly drink 

304 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

which conferred upon her immortality, and in common with 
all fairy stories the two lovers lived happily ever afterward. 

In the interpretation of this fable of the soul's descent into 
generation— more correctly, its descent into the concept of gen- 
eration— we must reiterate certain of our earlier assumptions. 
In the words of Thomas Taylor: “In the first place, the Gods, 
as I have elsewhere shown, are super-esscntial natures, from 
their profound union with the first cause, who is super-essential 
without any addition. But though the Gods, through their 
summits or unities, transcend essence, yet their unities are par- 
ticipated either by intellect alone, or by intellect and soul, or 
by intellect, soul, and body; from which participations the 
various orders of the Gods are deduced. When, therefore, in- 
tellect, soul, and body are in conjunction, suspended from this 
super-essential unity, which is the center, flower, or blossom, 
of a divine nature, then the God from whom they are sus- 
pended is called a mundane God.” 

The Platonists further affirmed that the human soul was 
born from the intellect and soul of the world, but that its direct 
parents were the intellect and soul of a certain star, which is 
its Father-Star and from which it first descended into the 
sphere of non-tranquility. As the soul is suspended between 
intellect and body, its “fall,” so-called, represents its inclination 
toward body. Therefore the mundane soul and the intellectual 
(or supermundane) soul are identical in essence, but verge in 
opposite directions. The fall, or descent, of the soul into ma- 
teriality is the result, consequently, of its contemplation of 
body; and conversely, its liberation from the mundane sphere 
is accomplished by turning about to the contemplation of in- 
tellect. The soul is an immortal mortal, for when mingling 
with the immortals it shares their permanence and transcend- 
ency. When mingling with mortal concerns, however, it is 
bereft of these endowments, becoming susceptible to a certain 
degree of mortality by which its luminosity is destroyed and 
its wings are clipped. From this we understand how it is pos- 
sible for a soul to fall from its estate and yet still remain in 
that estate; for though it may verge toward the intellect or the 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 


body, it is still essentially in its own estate and remains soul 
regardless of the nature with which it mingles. 

Apropos to the subject matter, we have the remarks of 
Aristides concerning the descent of the soul. “The soul,” he 
says, “as long as she is seated in a purer place of the universe, 
in consequence of not being mingled with the nature of bodic? ; 
is pure and inviolate, and revolves, together with the ruler of 
the world; but when, through an inclination to these inferior 
concerns, she receives certain phantasms from places about the 
earth, then she gradually imbibes oblivion of the goods she 
possessed in her former superior station, and at the same time 
descends. But by how much the more she is removed from 
superior natures, by so much the more approaching to inferiors, 
is she filled with insanity, and hurled into corporeal darkness; 
because through a diminution of her former dignity, she can 
no longer be intelligibly extended with the universe; but on 
account of her oblivion of supernal goods, and consequent 
astonishment, she is borne downward into more solid natures, 
and such as are involved in the obscurity of matter. Hence, 
when her desire of body commences, she assumes and draws 
from each of the superior places some portions of corporeal 

The same author continues his description of the descent of 
the soul through the orbits of the divine planets, from each of 
which — as in the story of Ishtar at the seven gates and also the 
descent of the soul in The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mer - 
curius Trismcgistus — the soul receives a luciform and envelop- 
ing nature. At last, approaching the sphere of the moon, the 
soul becomes of such corporeality that a certain gravitation 
draws it into the rhythm of the physical world. The soul then 
loses its spherical form and assumes the human shape, the luci- 
form and ethereal substances gathered from the stars first be- 
coming fetal membranes and later definite parts of the phys- 
ical structure of the outer nature and psychical qualities in the 
inner nature. For, as Aristides again remarks, the shell-like 
vestment of man is nourished from its own root, which is the 
descending soul. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Psyche (or the soul) is described by Apulcius to be of royal 
parentage, thus arcanely intimating that she is of a divine 
line, for royalty here signifies the spiritual lineage. That which 
has its foundation in the gods is declared to be of kingly order, 
for the gods were the patrons of rulers who thus administered 
their kingly office by divine right. In contradiction, mortals 
were regarded as creatures of common birth to signify that 
their mother was the earth and they themselves earthborn and 
not— like the gods— the sons of heaven. Psyche is further 
described as the most beautiful of all mortals, so far surpassing 
all other earthly beings in loveliness that men venerated her as 
a goddess and made her offerings similar to those with which 
Venus, the Mother of Generations, was propitiated. 

The soul is thus represented as exceeding in perfection all 
other material bodies, its beauty being due to its proximity to 
the fountain of beauty, of whose harmonies it partakes and 
whose excellence it reflects into the inferior sphere. The per- 
fections of the soul surpass the perfections of the body even as 
the qualities of the superior nature surpass the qualities of form. 
In Book X of the Laws , Plato puts into the mouth of the 
Athenian stranger the following words: ‘‘And if this is true, 
and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things 
which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity before those 
which appertain to the body?” Cleinias answers “Certainly.” 
“Then,” rejoins the Athenian, “thought and care, and mind 
and art, and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft, 
and heavy and light.” 

Here Plato emphasizes the doctrine of the excellence of the 
soul over the body; for the concerns of the soul are more 
noble, more lasting, and more satisfying than are the con- 
cerns of the mortal nature. As mental activity is more beauti- 
ful than physical activity, and virtue more excellent than pul- 
chritude of person, so the ancients ascribed to the soul a tran- 
scendent and luminous beatitude. Sensing the felicity of this 
inner part, the outer nature regarded the soul as a divinity- 
in some cases, as the Divinity. This misdirected homage is said 
to have “vexed” the higher gods who, since they greatly ex- 

Emerson s Concept of the Oversoul 


cccdcd the virtue of the soul, should properly be the recipients 
of a fuller and more perfect devotion. 

If the gods, however, be impersonal principles, how shall 
we interpret that vexation which prompts them to divert their 
benevolence and leave the offending mortal deprived of their 
qualities? When man in his quest of realities exalts secondary 
natures— such as the soul— and loses sight of the divine origin 
and wholeness from which souls are suspended, he reaps for 
his imprudence irrationality, or the suspension of rational 
activity. Thus is his mind continually vexed by its own un- 
soundness, and such disquietude in the rational faculties is 
declared to represent an offended intellect or an indignant 

The goddess Venus manifests a twofold disposition. The 
superior phase liberates souls from material generation and 
elevates them to those superessential generations which subsist 
from the apex of the generating sphere. The other, and 
lower, phase of Venus inclines souls toward corporeality and 
binds them in servitude to the generating nature, for which 
reason the goddess was regarded by the ancients as a personifica- 
tion of carnality. The great dragon or monster whom the 
oracle prophesied was to become the husband of Psyche signi- 
fied materiality — the mortal nature with whom she must be 
wedded at the time of her entrance into physical life. The 
fabulous monsters of the ancient Mystery rituals— such as 
behemoth , leviathan, and the hippocampus — all signified the 
mortal sphere that devours the souls descending into genera- 
tion, and like the Minotaur claims for its own the fairest and 
bravest of every age. 

Psyche is led forth to the top of a high mountain, there to 
wed this strange creature decreed by the gods, that her spirit 
might be duly humbled, and that she might realize that only 
the immortals can escape the limitations of matter and the 
ravages of time. From this mountain top Psyche is borne 
downward by Zephyr, the west wind, into a beautiful valley 

308 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

where stands a mighty grove of oak trees. This valley signifies 
the mundane sphere or lower world into which the generating 
soul is conducted. The east is the portal of generation, for it 
denotes the place of the nativity in a horoscope. So the west 
wind blows the soul gently into birth. The grove of trees 
signifies creation, which is, as it were, a clump of mighty 
agencies. In the midst of this grove is the palace of the world, 
where there are vast treasures and the jewels of the stars. The 
tracings upon the walls of the palace are the constellations— 
those vast signs upon the walls of heaven which hem in our 
solar system and are the limits of the mundane house. 

Here Psyche is served by invisible beings whose voices she 
hears; for having descended from her true estate, the spiritual 
agencies which are her excellence arc no longer visible. But 
their voices still speak to her inner nature, even as the gods 
still speak through the oracle of the human heart. Psyche, 
however, is not yet physical and mortal; hence the physical 
agencies of creation are also invisible. Suspended thus between 
two spheres, she wanders in the Great House of Life which 
she is eventually to discover is the dwelling place of Cupid. 

Cupid is chiefly familiar to the 20th century as the match- 
maker supreme, but in antiquity he played a most significant 
role. He is the symbol of love which, according to philosophy, 
has a duality of natures. The first is that supernal passion by 
which the soul is moved while still pure and undefiled in the 
luminance of the soul sphere. The second is mortal love 
in which the soul— deluded by the findings of sense— exchanges 
for the adoration of internal qualities the infatuation for ex- 
ternal appearance. 

Married to an invisible being, Psyche thus becomes the 
bride of spiritual love, into which union the element of form 
or materiality has not yet entered. She dwells in a beautiful 
astral palace, served by creatures whose natures have not yet 
been invested with mortal fabric. Here she remains until hei 
sisters— who signify mortal instincts— begin to pull her down 
ward into the sphere of sense. 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 309 

When Psyche beholds the physical form of her husband, 
spiritual love is changed into material passion. She is forth- 
with precipitated from her heavenly palace into the broad 
meadow of the earth where broken-hearted she wanders in 
search of the happiness she foolishly sacrificed by listening to 
the voices of worldliness. She then becomes a servant of Venus, 
who sets for the unfortunate girl a number of difficult as well 
as dangerous tasks. These tasks represent the labors of life; 
the misfortunes of existence which generation heaps upon 
those who come beneath its sway. In each instance, however, 
she is assisted by a heavenly voice which, representative of the 
ever-present daemon or divinity, with its greater vision leads the 
soul befogged by matter through the tortuous byways of 

When Venus enslaves Psyche, the lower love becomes master 
of the soul qualities, and the shackles of desire hold the will 
in bondage to the animal propensities. The last task set by 
Venus for Psyche to perform is the journey to Hades to bring 
back with her from the sphere of the dead a casket filled with 
beauty. This casket signified physical life, which the ignorant 
soul believes to be the receptacle of happiness and beauty but 
which proves, upon opening, to contain only an evil and stupefy- 
ing spirit. Seizing the soul, this spirit causes it to descend into 
the very depths of corporeality, there to remain until Cupid 
(or love) comes to awaken and elevate it to its lost estate. 

Cupid, the invisible god, is rational love — that affection 
which is seated in the true qualities of the soul. This higher 
and more divine emotion, rousing the rational soul as from a 
stupor, communicates its vitality thereto and thus enables the 
soul by rational procedure to cast off the lethargy of the illu- 
sions of the flesh. Upon completion of this task Psyche placates 
the angry Venus and even wins favor in the sight of awful 
Zeus, the Demiurgus himself. Thereupon she is given the 
heavenly drink and ceasing to be a mortal verges toward the 
immortals. She thus becomes the mother of joy, which is born 
of the union of the rationality in each soul with that greater 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

rationality which is the invisible but all-potent god of intellec- 
tual love. 

Thus is set forth the story of a prodigal daughter whose 
experiences parallel those contained in the biblical allegory of 
the prodigal son. Here also is the key to the allegory of 
Lohengrin; for the young prince of the Holy Grail is divine 
and unnamed love, which is destroyed or forced to retire 
when its nature is brought within the sphere of denomination. 

From the foregoing it is evident that the integrity of man 
is posited in his superior part, and regardless of the physical 
inhibitions by which the flow of his divinity is impeded, that 
which is essentially good and true must perforce ultimately 
dominate the entire character. Not without just cause does 
man instinctively turn to his own soul for consolation and 
guidance. While he may not consciously realize the immensity 
of Reality, he senses an expansive principle which, residing 
within the innermost recesses of his being, is ever ready to in- 
cline him toward perfection. 

Life posits its own awareness in the soul quality; through 
the soul, spirit learns of its own apparent aloofness from, yet 
its actual identity with, matter. Clothing its own transcendency 
in soul, spirit gives its impersonal self into the keeping of a 
personal nature; clothed with the rationality of a personal 
nature, spirit descends into the inferior universe to fulfill the 
natural law of being, that in the nature of perfect existence 
there shall constantly manifest generations. The Divine Plan 
includes an order of forms through which life principles con- 
tinually flow from awareness through the vale of unawareness 
back to awareness again. 

In philosophy, therefore, we labor without ceasing to stimu- 
late our higher natures and thereby rouse the soul from the 
lethargy of materiality; permit it to ascend from personals 
to impersonals, from forms to the estates of the formless, to be 
finally reunited with that sovereign voice of rational, or intellec- 
tual, love— that passion of the soul for Reality, that impulse 
to verge toward those natures partaking most fully of the 

Emerson's Concept of the Oversoul 


permanently beautiful. Thus, within human nature, which is 
incapable of appreciation in its fullest sense, dwells an all- 
comprehending power— the human soul— which ever seeks 
reunion with that omniscience to which each action of uni- 
versal agency is, in turn, the object of a profound appreciation. 
This greater soul, this mysterious Cupid; this formless being 
which man may not behold without destroying; this least of 
forms and most of spirit — this is the true Oversoul in whose 
intellection we are perpetually immersed and of whose tran- 
scendency we continually partake. 


Assuming the illusion of form, the spiritual life descends out of its own radiant 
nature and takes upon itself in sequential order a mental constitution, an emotional 
(or astral) constitution, a vital constitution, and, lastly, a physical constitution. 
These four constitutions are united to the non-incarnating spiritual self by a thread 
of life. 


Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 

T N Plato's Charmtdes , wisdom is declared to be the science of 

itself and also the science of other sciences; furthermore, 
the science of the absence of science and the science of mental 
temperances. While all other divisions of learning are con- 
cerned with objects, substances, places or conditions, wisdom 
is concerned with its own nature. From it flow however all 
other sciences, and by it is determined not only the knowablc 
but the unknowable; not only the extent of that which is but 
also the extent of that which is not. 

Defined as the proper temperance of the mind, this wisdom, 
verging toward neither extreme but abiding in perpetual equi- 
librium, may be likened to the monad of knowing, the unity 
of rationality, the summit of all sciences and speculations. 
Today we have preserved those sciences which are properly 
termed the classifiers of extraneous facts, but that form of 
wisdom which is primarily concerned with the substance of 
erudition itself has vanished from the institutes of man. As 
Plato further observes, a wise and temperate man is one capable 
of correctly estimating the extent not only of his own knowl- 
edge or ignorance but also of performing the same service for 
others. No one is wise who is not as fully acquainted with 
the extent of ignorance as with die extent of wisdom; for in 
mortal concerns wisdom is an inconsequential area of ration- 
ality existing in an infinite expanse of ignorance. 

Temperamentally a skeptic, Socrates infers that wisdom is 
not the knowledge of things but the knowledge of the condi- 
tion of knowledge with respect to its absence or presence; an 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

observation plainly intimating that wisdom deals with generals 
and not with particulars. Wisdom may therefore be considered 
as composed of the universal s of knowing and the sciences of 
the particulars of knowing, which as the practical are sus- 
pended from theory. Exoteric knowledge then, can be defined 
as the knowledge of particulars— a familiarity with those arts 
and sciences arrived at through application and concentration 
upon external natures. Conversely, esoteric knowledge is con- 
cerned with the inherent nature of knowldge itself and is 
limited to those acquainted with the more profound issues of 
philosophy and rational theology. Lest the reader grasp too 
much of this sublime teaching, Plato causes Socrates to refute 
the statements concerning this abstract science of knowing, thus 
making it perceptible only to such as are in turn able to refute 

When he claimed for science that it would wrest from 
theology the entire domain of cosmological theory, Professor 
Tyndall would so magnify the part as to swallow up the whole. 
The puerility of such an assumption is self -apparent, for science 
by virtue of its very nature has not and cannot invade the 
realm of true theology. Science may overthrow the false gods 
and dogmas of creed, but the mysteries of the divine spheres 
elude the grasp of corporeal learning since they belong to a 
more subtle and esoteric realm. Never until knowledge is 
capable of analyzing itself can it retire into its own causal 
nature and behold the luminous and stupendous wholeness 
from which beings are suspended by most intangible threads. 
Thus while the knowledge of external natures and the classifica- 
tion of objective phenomena are the definite province of science, 
none but the Mysteries held the true keys to wisdom. They 
were the custodians of secrets most arcane. Through peculiar 
disciplines they equipped certain selected mortals with rational 
instruments by which to measure, estimate, and classify those 
internal facts which forever elude the intellect delimited by its 
training to the phenomena of the exterior universe. 

Founded, according to Sanchoniathon, in the night of Time, 
the Mysteries were established upon the premise of this two- 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 315 

fold wisdom, of which the greater phase was committed to 
their reverent custody and the lesser revealed to all men without 
discrimination. The world, however, was not left wholly 
devoid of truth, for the secrets of the inner life were set forth 
under the guise of theological fables that those whose rational 
faculties were awakening might sense and incline toward the 
more sublime verities. Sallust declares the fables of the wise 
to be of five orders, of which the first is the theological; the 
second, physical; the third, animastic or psychical; the fourth, 
material; and the fifth, of a mixed order. Many generations 
often elapsed between the appearance among men of exalted 
intellects able to comprehend and reconstruct from the figures 
and metaphors of mythology the hidden body of this spiritual 
learning, belief in which is now regarded as one of man’s most 
tenacious superstitions. Yet shall we consider as pure figments 
of the imagination those theological systems which wholly 
occupied the intellectual faculties of such men as Pythagoras, 
Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Proclus, Porphyry, Cicero, Epictetus, 
Crantor, Atticus, Galen, Plutarch, and Boetius? Is not the 
rational proof advanced to support the existence of this esoteric 
knowledge as valid in its own field as the proof adduced by 
science and now regarded as infallible evidence of scientific 
erudition ? 

That knowledge is not the common property of all is evident 
from the natural superiority of one mind over another, for no 
two individuals possess equal faculties of comprehension. These 
intervals of intellect, manifest to even the most obtuse senses, 
can never be annihilated save by a definite process of improve- 
ment by which the lesser self equips itself to comprehend the 
findings of the greater. The line of demarcation then, between 
the hidden and the revealed, is not to be considered definite 
but rather relative, for the unfolding rationality is ever rejecting 
the old in favor of the new which, half-defined, is scarcely 
tangible enough to support the intellect. Thus the individual 
is ever engaged in tearing away the veils that drape the Saitic 
figure of knowledge. Yet in the words of Sir Edwin Arnold, 
“As veil upon veil he lifts, he finds veil upon veil behind.” The 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

elements of realization are forever elusive, and greatness or 
littleness of thought is dependent upon comparison for its 
estimation. Man is increasing in his ability to comprehend 
things, to orient himself in relation to place, and to estimate 
quantity and condition. Though the conceivable universe is 
actually but an anthill in cosmos, inquisitive humanity in the 
interests of science will eventually explore that universe to its 
outermost fringe and fling itself therefrom into eternity. 

As long as the human intellect thus involved in its own 
insufficiency communicates its opacity to all external natures, 
the term esoteric should not be applied to that which is simply 
unknown, but rather to that which in terms of mortal intellect 
is unknowable. We have but begun our struggle to master the 
phenomena of the physical universe; milleniums must pass 
before we can hope to classify its infinite diversity and cope 
with the problem of eternity. Although the universe envelopes 
us as with a vast mantle of obscurity and isolates us in the 
midst of our insufficiency, yet no phenomena discoverable either 
by scientific apparatus or philosophic deduction can be classified 
as truly esoteric. The building of an improved telescope with 
lenses powerful enough to reveal a galaxy of stars at present 
invisible would in no way encroach upon the province of 
esoteric knowledge, for the fact that these stars may be seen 
if the physical apparatus is sufficiently acute assigns them to 
the category of exoteric knowledge. 

Hie term exoteric covers the area of communicable facts 
and includes every form of knowledge discoverable to the in- 
tellect through the sense perceptions or the physical mind. 
That which has been, is now, or can ultimately be recorded 
upon paper, discoursed upon in the lecture room, debated by 
polemics, or dissected by the anatomist, must perforce belong 
to the inferior sphere of speculation where these activities are 
common, and hence be exoteric. That which can be couched 
in the language of the mortal sphere pertains to the mortal 
sphere; but that which pertains to the higher spheres can never 
be caught upon the surface of grosser substances or sensed by 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


duller perceptions. In one sweep the self-recommended vendors 
of things esoteric who herald their coming with 24-sheet 
posters, are thus eliminated. The communication of esoteric 
knowledge requires a method far more than any at the com- 
mand of metaphysical mountebanks. The proper custodians 
of this knowledge — the ancient Mysteries— realized too well 
that its transmission and perpetuation were the most difficult 
of all tasks, in many instances bordering on the impossible. 
How shall we reveal to another that which entirely transcends 
the province of the senses, that which is nonconvertible into 
mundane terms, and with which nothing physical is comparable ? 

Hence the secret schools of antiquity instituted systems of 
definite discipline by which the whole nature was dissociated 
from the elements of exoteric knowledge, and through pro- 
tracted effort elevated to the level of supersensuous comprehen- 
sion. Having reached this state, the principles of higher know- 
ing were then communicated to the neophyte by a method 
almost as arcane as the secrets themselves. A strange telepathic 
system was developed whereby the findings of the subtler inner 
perceptions were communicated without passing through that 
place interval which exists between ordinary intellects— an in- 
terval which must be filled with words or other symbolic forms 
in which the esoteric matter is necessarily lost. How then shall 
we define esoteric knowledge? It is the classification of those 
superessential elements of the pure intellect sphere where 
form, as man recognizes it, does not exist. It must be commu- 
nicated by a method which, while it awakens no response in 
the sensory organisms, renders knowledge comprehensive to 
the inner perceptions. The subject of this inner knowledge 
and its method of communication has long confounded men 
of letters. Science cannot conceive of the human mind 
functioning independently of matter; nor, if consistent to their 
premises, can men of science admit the possibility of the mind 
thinking in terms independently of form. In other words, they 
cannot dissociate the rational processes from the similitudes of 
phenomena and the laws of comparison that dominate the field 
of material thought. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

According to science the human mind instinctiyely clothes 
its conclusions and reactions in the vestments of form, so that 
even before the thought is registered by the outer nature of 
the thinker it is habited in familiar, yes, even trite and conven- 
tional forms. What science really means, however, is not that 
thoughts are necessarily always related to form, but rather that 
until they are clothed in the elements of form they are incom- 
municable. In other words, thoughts for which there are no 
form associations must die at birth. Dominated by the laws 
of generation and under the patronage of the goddess Demetcr, 
the physical sphere will permit no energy to exist within its 
domain unless that energy abide by the dictates of matter by 
being clothed in the substances of matter. When thoughts 
abide in the mind they are thus launched into generation 
through words, these words — which are their bodies—dimming, 
like the mortal vehicles of man, the lucidity of the inner nature. 
Like the human soul, word-souls function imperfectly while 
enveloped in the grosser substances of the generating sphere. 

Thus, while the mind under certain conditions is capable 
of receiving into itself definite superphysical stimuli, it cannot 
communicate these attenuated impulses and still preserve their 
integrity. A notable example is that of the eminent psychologist 
Henry Havelock Ellis who, as the result of intense functioning 
in the realm erf psychologic idealism, became so sensitized that 
to him occurred what is classified under the general heading 
“mystical experience.” In his book, The Dance of Life, he 
writes: “My self was one with the Not-Self, my will one with 
the universal will. I seemed to walk in light; my feet scarcely 
touched the ground; I had entered a new world. The effect of 
that swift revolution was permanent. At first there was a 
moment or two of wavering, and then the primary exaltation 
subsided into an attitude of calm serenity toward all those 
questions that had once seemed so torturing. * * * Neither 
was I troubled about the existence of any superior being or 
beings, and I was ready to see that all the words and forms 
by which men try to picture spiritual realities are mere 
metaphors and images of an inward experience. * * * I had 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


become indifferent to shadows, for I held the substance. I 
had sacrificed what I held dearest at the call of what seemed 
to be Truth, and now I was repaid a thousandfold. Hence- 
forth I could face life with confidence and joy, for my heart 
was at one with the world and whatever might prove to be 
in harmony with the world could not be out of harmony with 

Similar experiences are recorded in the lives of Meister 
Eckhart, Emanuel Swedenborg, Dante Alighieri, and Martin 
Luther. Scientists regard the “mystical experience” in a 
troubled sort of way; those savants more generously-minded 
cherish the vague hope that some such experience may be their 
lot and thus afford them opportunity to analyze first hand its 
attendant reactions. Unfortunately, the “mystical experience ,, 
does not occur to such pedants as are minded to dissection, 
or whose paper learning causes them to view lives as simply 
complicated mechanisms. When, therefore, the apparently 
miraculous does transpire, the men of letters congregate to 
marvel and debate, desirous of scoffing but withal perturbed. 
To them spirit is so intangible and the bugaboo of superstition 
so tenacious that they fear even to register an interest in things 
superphysical lest they be accused of mental senility. 

In the light of the persistent drift of modern thought toward 
materialism, it is not difficult to understand why the ancient 
systems of learning mean so little to the modern mind. Firmly 
posited upon what it terms the practical, science can discover 
no purpose in ceremonial or symbol, nor can it conceive any 
tangible good to result from chanting grave rituals to the 
accompaniment of the lyre. The professional standing of 
Pythagoras the philosopher was almost irremediably impaired 
by the discovery that he advocated dancing as essential to 
education, and that even in his advanced years he was accus- 
tomed to invoke Terpsichore with true scholastic measure. 
Modernity cannot picture such profound and serious-minded 
men as Plato and Aristotle, or even the skeptical Socrates, caper- 
ing with aesthetic abandon in some moonlit grove. Yet we 

320 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

have not the slightest evidence that the accuracy of their 
philosophic deductions was adversely affected thereby. Pythag- 
oras declared, upon the authority of Empedocles, that every 
individual who is to achieve greatness must be capable of 
expressing rhythm in some proper manner; that the soul which 
cannot so acutely sense the exalted tempo of the celestial 
spheres that he is possessed therby, can never hope to so 
approach the soul of things as to reach the summit of achieve- 
ment in any form of learning. 

Pythagoras realized what the modern gownsman has ig- 
nored: namely, that none is capable of knowing in great 
measure who is incapable of intense feeling. Learning acquired 
in an aesthetic atmosphere is far more valuable than that gained 
in the severe or lifeless schoolroom. In the effort to preserve 
its integrity, science posits its dogma upon the infallibility 
of material evidence, which is presumed to increase in accuracy 
as it departs from sentiment, and is most valuable when most 
cold. Add to this a second premise — that of the impossibility 
of knowing beyond the sphere of phenomenon — and you have 
the schoolman’s dilemma epitomized. 

A transcendent form of knowledge demands for its expres- 
sion a transcendent form of communication. Vocabularies are 
created to supply certain needs, and are useless beyond the 
confines of these ends. Language is intended to transmit the 
more common attitudes of mankind, but for those rare souls 
who have elevated themselves beyond the level of common 
attitudes the language of the herd is wholly insufficient. Thus 
in ages past philosophy evolved its own language— an unspoken 
tongue — a method of communication which was mostly a com- 
munion by which the unutterable was transmitted. In the 
initiations of the ancient Cabirian Mysteries of Samothrace, 
knowledge was disseminated by a curious method not unlike 
a highly perfected radio. The instruments of this unique pro- 
cedure were the rational faculties of the disciples themselves, 
and the activating agent was a mysterious electric fluid which 
the priests had learned to capture from the atmosphere and 
direct by impulses of the will. It has been clearly demonstrated 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


that the Greeks were familiar with electricity, a knowledge 
secured by them from the Egyptians. This accounts for the 
peculiar veneration accorded amber by early priestcrafts, for 
this substance had been found to possess the quality of captur- 
ing and storing electricity. Among carvings and figures of 
the Samothracian Mysteries are several depicting what is called 
the “electric head.” The face is surrounded by a circlet of hair 
which is standing on end as though galvanized by an electric 
current. In one symbolic group the hierophant is seated in 
the center like the sun in the midst of the zodiac. This ven- 
erable one is giving the instruction and his appearance is that 
of singular repose; yet the forcefulness pervading the figure is 
arcanely significant of the concentration of the will upon the 
dissemination of the Great Work. Gathered about him are 
the disciples who have the appearance of being electrified. 
Each individual’s hair is standing on end as though caused by 
a current of electrical energy, in each instance flowing away 
from the central figure from whom the current emanates. 

To the initiated beholder the picture is evidence that the 
central figure is creating and disseminating rings of electrical 
energy which, passing outward in ever-increasing circles, moves 
through the bodies of the disciples and produces the appear- 
ance of electrification. Ancient sculpture also abounds with 
these electrified heads, whose significance thus far has been 
almost entirely overlooked by modern students of the Mysteries. 
It is evident, nevertheless, that these heads and the pageantries 
in which the electrified hair is shown represent efforts to portray 
the method employed in the communication of esoteric philos- 
ophy. The doctrines, projected like an electric current, thus 
stimulated certain rational faculties in the inner natures of the 
disciples. As a result of such internal stimuli the disciples were 
enabled to sense, feel, or intuitively grasp that which was 
incommunicable by any objective means. Only when the 
disciplines of the secret schools had stimulated the internal 
centers of consciousness to a point where it was possible for the 
neophytes to be brought cn rapport with the inner perceptions 
of the hierophant could this body of secret tradition concerning 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

formless and eternal truths be communicated from one to 

Mystical philosophers have demonstrated that proficiency in 
certain arts and sciences stimulates the sensitivity of the super- 
physical rational faculties. Because of the definite impulse 
toward orderliness and exactitude conferred by the study of 
mathematics, this science was elevated to chief place among 
the stimuli to rationality. Sculpture, similarly, was highly 
venerated, for it was a medium by which beauty could be 
liberated from the shapeless block of marble. The sculptor 
was not regarded as a creator of beauty but rather as one who 
chipped away the rough exterior and thus brought to light 
the concealed symmetry of an inner nature. In short, the 
statue existed in the stone before the artist released it and 
made its symmetry apprehensible to the casual observer. Dia- 
lectics also stimulate the subtler phases of rationality by 
causing them to rise in defense of principle or premise. Through 
dialectics the mind is rendered flexible and sufficient for any 
and every contingency. Schooled in the thrust and parry of 
dialectics, the mind produces “a Roland for every Oliver” in 
the intellectual affaire d'honneur. 

The ideal educational system by which the cultural standards 
of our youth are to be molded is the stimulation of these inner 
perceptions and the preparation of the mind for the contem- 
plation of life’s broader and profounder realities. For the most 
part, however, modern institutions of learning fail to accom- 
plish this summum bonum because they are regarded as ends 
rather than means; they are considered capable of educating 
the mind, when actually their sole province is to prepare the 
intellect to receive into its own substance those impregnations 
of the rational self upon which all true mental excellence de- 
pends. Mathematics per se, for example, leads to ends com- 
paratively mean and insignificant, yet nearly all great mathema- 
ticians have developed some phase of clairvoyance or clair- 
sentience as the result of their application to its principles. 
Gradually the inner perceptions assert their sovereignty, and 
through a concrete mental organism rendered supersensitive 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


by mathematical speculation, become aware of the polydimcn- 
sional vistas of the higher and more spiritualized sciences. 
The musician is similarly subjected to a sublimation of feeling. 
Through protracted application to the principles of harmony 
and rhythm the musician so refines his own emotional nature 
that it comes to be ensouled by universal concords, and the 
musician himself is moved as though possessed by universal 
agencies. Thus the mind that has given itself over to the 
rather prosaic science of harmonics is instinctively caused 
thereby to verge toward universal rhythm and actually hear the 
music of the spheres. 

Standing in the place of the wise and discoursing to his 
students upon the profundities of divine order, the philosopher 
suddenly discovers that he speaks better than he knows, becom- 
ing, as it were, a disciple of himself. He finds new meanings 
in his own words; he becomes aware that his mortal mind is 
being moved by an immortal agent, and that by some indefin- 
able circumstance he has become the very mouthpiece of the 
ages. Thus, while the exoteric learning disseminated by our 
public schools and universities inclines the whole nature toward 
mental illumination, only through the Mysteries is that inclina- 
tion brought to the high tide of expression— namely, that point 
where the principles by which eternal verities are maintained 
and proceed according to their own essences are rendered 
apprehensible to limited human comprehension. With rare 
exceptions, eminent educators admit that our schools are pri- 
marily intended to be stimulators of internal faculties, which 
faculties alone are capable of inducing the state of knowing. 

In the majority of cases, however, even our comparatively 
sufficient educational facilities are productive of results either 
abortive or hopelessly mediocre. Too often the student is 
simply introduced to those phases of learning which are defi- 
nitely applicable to the utilitarian problems of the age. His 
education is consequently considered complete when he is 
schooled in any subject sufficiently for it to serve as a liveli- 
hood. Only occasionally do we find the man or woman whose 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

knowledge of any particular subject is profound enough to 
support the mind in a state commensurate with its dignity. 

The lack of rational philosophy common to this age is most 
evident in our educational systems whose object ostensibly is to 
superimpose extraneous thoughts upon those half-awakened 
adolescent minds groping for substance amid the shadow of 
their own immaturity. Educators presumably have adopted 
Lockes theory that the juvenile mind is a blank sheet of paper 
upon whose receptive surface must be scribbled conventional 
platitudes, premises or admonitions. Regarding the intellectual 
equipment of youth as a sort of highly attenuated putty, in- 
structors subconsciously relegate to themselves the molding of 
this mental stuff into the likeness of the conventional, the 
substantial, and the prosaic — what they esteem as the outstand- 
ing characteristics of sound and useful thought. Under the 
molding influence of the old, it is thus assured that the new 
life will be a replica of those inadequate generations which 
rise from their stupor only to blight futurity. 

When philologic pedagogies have finished poking their 
intellectual fingers into the plastic substances of his brain, 
its youthful owner is prepared to go forth into the world and 
repeat every imprudence which marred the tranquillity of his 
ancestors. The dire circumstances that torment each succeed- 
ing generation are thus reinvoked and perpetuated. This men- 
tal overshadowing renders its beneficiary incapable of origin- 
ality even in vice; he cannot even make his own mistakes but 
must continue to repeat the errors of the ages and bow beneath 
such time-honored institutions as war and competition. With 
the possible exception of theology, nowhere outside the realm 
of education does man's egotism find more grandiloquent 
expression. Here fools in purple doublets sanctimoniously 
bestow their foolishness upon posterity. Having lost sight of 
the true purpose of education, these pedants regard him well- 
cultured who thinks least and remembers most while *m the 
schoolroom but who, having matriculated into the greater 
concerns of life, there conveniently acquires the knack of 
forgetting even the little he once remembered. With the ends 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


of education thus most effectively obscured, the means by which 
these ends should be attained are at best but highroads to 
nowhere. Education has become a vicious circle wherein the 
ignorance of one generation is transmitted like a hereditary 
taint to its progeny. Every form of social evil is made to 
thrive exceedingly, and the racial virtues are periodically 
threatened with extinction. 

Interpretation is the preponderant factor in modern teach- 
ing. The instructor perforce acts as an intermediary between 
the complexity of a science and the insufficiency of a partly- 
developed mind. To interpret adequately is a divine gift 
bestowed by the gods only upon those whose attainments rival 
the heroic deeds of myth and legend. A great interpreter 
is no less a master than a great originator; for only a mind as 
great as the conceiving mind can intelligently interpret the 
concepts of that conceiving mind. A proper instructor of the 
young is born, not made. His genius is supreme, for not 
only must he be able to grasp the infinite complexity of a 
subject, but he must also reduce that complexity to an orderly 
simplicity. He must think downward to those intellects diat 
still verge upon the state of thoughtlessness, inclining them 
gently, reverently, yet unmistakably, toward rational procedure. 

Plato was dead five hundred years before an interpreter was 
found worthy of the task of revealing the intellectual achieve- 
ments of this illustrious mortal. Of all die Platonic successors, 
only Proclus sensed the significance and magnitude of Plato’s 
contribution to human knowledge. Each century gives birth 
to but one or two truly creative or interpretive minds. All 
other claimants to proficiency and conversance are merely 
meddlers in matters of the mind — dabblers, dilettanti, veritable 
parasites upon the bodies of art and science. They suffer from 
that most loathsome and fatal of all diseases: ignorance of their 
own ignorance. The prime requisite of every great exponent 
of an art or science is that he shall recognize and emphasize 
its aesthetic and ethical aspects. Even such prosaic arts as car- 
pentry and cookery may become media by which the mind 
can be introduced to the beautiful, the noble, and the good. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

knowledge of any particular subject is profound enough to 
support the mind in a state commensurate with its dignity. 

The lack of rational philosophy common to this age is most 
evident in our educational systems whose object ostensibly is to 
superimpose extraneous thoughts upon those half-awakened 
adolescent minds groping for substance amid the shadow of 
their own immaturity. Educators presumably have adopted 
Locke’s theory that the juvenile mind is a blank sheet of paper 
upon whose receptive surface must be scribbled conventional 
platitudes, premises or admonitions. Regarding the intellectual 
equipment of youth as a sort of highly attenuated putty, in- 
structors subconsciously relegate to themselves the molding of 
this mental stuff into the likeness of the conventional, the 
substantial, and the prosaic — what they esteem as the outstand- 
ing characteristics of sound and useful thought. Under the 
molding influence of the old, it is thus assured that the new 
life will be a replica of those inadequate generations which 
rise from their stupor only to blight futurity. 

When philologic pedagogues have finished poking their 
intellectual fingers into the plastic substances of his brain, 
its youthful owner is prepared to go forth into the world and 
repeat every imprudence which marred the tranquillity of his 
ancestors. The dire circumstances that torment each succeed- 
ing generation are thus reinvoked and perpetuated. This men- 
tal overshadowing renders its beneficiary incapable of origin- 
ality even in vice; he cannot even make his own mistakes but 
must continue to repeat the errors of the ages and bow beneath 
such time-honored institutions as war and competition. With 
the possible exception of theology, nowhere outside the realm 
of education does man’s egotism find more grandiloquent 
expression. Here fools in purple doublets sanctimoniously 
bestow their foolishness upon posterity. Having lost sight of 
the true purpose of education, these pedants regard him well- 
cultured who thinks least and remembers most while in the 
schoolroom but who, having matriculated into the greater 
concerns of life, there conveniently acquires the knack of 
forgetting even the little he once remembered. With the ends 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


of education thus most effectively obscured, the means by which 
these ends should be attained are at best but highroads to 
nowhere. Education has become a vicious circle wherein the 
ignorance of one generation is transmitted like a hereditary 
taint to its progeny. Every form of social evil is made to 
thrive exceedingly, and the racial virtues are periodically 
threatened with extinction. 

Interpretation is the preponderant factor in modern teach- 
ing. The instructor perforce acts as an intermediary between 
the complexity of a science and the insufficiency of a partly- 
developed mind. To interpret adequately is a divine gift 
bestowed by the gods only upon those whose attainments rival 
the heroic deeds of myth and legend. A great interpreter 
is no less a master than a great originator; for only a mind as 
great as the conceiving mind can intelligently interpret the 
concepts of that conceiving mind. A proper instructor of the 
young is born, not made. His genius is supreme, for not 
only must he be able to grasp the infinite complexity of a 
subject, but he must also reduce that complexity to an orderly 
simplicity. He must think downward to those intellects that 
still verge upon the state of thoughtlessness, inclining them 
gently, reverently, yet unmistakably, toward rational procedure. 

Plato was dead five hundred years before an interpreter was 
found worthy of the task of revealing the intellectual achieve- 
ments of this illustrious mortal. Of all the Platonic successors, 
only Proclus sensed the significance and magnitude of Plato’s 
contribution to human knowledge. Each century gives birth 
to but one or two truly creative or interpretive minds. All 
other claimants to proficiency and conversance are merely 
meddlers in matters of the mind — dabblers, dilettanti, veritable 
parasites upon the bodies of art and science. They suffer from 
that most loathsome and fatal of all diseases: ignorance of their 
own ignorance. The prime requisite of every great exponent 
of an art or science is that he shall recognize and emphasize 
its aesthetic and ethical aspects. Even such prosaic arts as car- 
pentry and cookery may become media by which the mind 
can be introduced to the beautiful, the noble, and the good. 


Lfxtuues on Ancient Philosophy 

Failure to perceive the substratum of divine agency below the 
surface of every physical procedure is to demonstrate one’s 
disqualification to instruct in the elements of that procedure. 
Therefore none but the idealist who can see the beautiful in 
all things should be entrusted with the education of a child 
in whose nature it is hoped that the spirit of beauty will take 
up its abode. 

Of Greek philosophy it has been said that its interpretation 
was “reserved for men who were born indeed in a baser age, 
but who being allotted a nature similar to their master were 
the true interpreters of his sublime and mystic speculations.” 
(See the introduction to the Select Works of Plotinus .) Of 
education in general, as of jurisprudence in particular, it is 
all too evident that the spirit is dead and only the letter remains. 
Those dependent upon it for intellectual sustenance sicken and 
ultimately become intellectual corpses from whom the rational 
life has fled. As without the fructifying principle the germ 
of potentiality cannot burst its confining walls, so without the 
higher ethics of philosophy the seed of divinity resident in man 
can never be quickened. Only a comprehending soul rendered 
aware of the luminous realities behind the veil of form through 
the disciplines of right-thinking, can dispel those illusions 
which, like the monsters of a fabled age, guard the adytum 
of the sacred sciences. 

The corruption that crept into its ethical institutes was the 
direct cause of the decadence of pagandom. Those custodians 
of the secret doctrine — the venerable hierophants of the Mys- 
teries— left their schools and hied themselves to the remote 
corners of the earth. Deprived of their inspired leadership, 
the Mysteries became mere mongers of empty words. After 
courageously passing all the hazardous trials of the ancient 
rituals the enthusiastic neophyte did not receive at the com- 
pletion of the rites the promised esoteric knowledge. Sancti- 
monious priests could only drone garbled fancies, or whisper 
with bated breath elegant nothings in his ear. In the quest 
for truth men will risk much, but even the most intrepid soul 
will hesitate to jeopardize life or limb for such dubious returns. 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


A similar betrayal of trust also awaits the modern seeker 
after Truth. The ends to be gained by modern education are 
so doubtful that there is much justification for the revolt of 
youth against a system which, in exchange for some eighteen 
years of application, leaves him as unfitted for life as before. 
While the social standing of the well-educated man may be a 
trifle more impressive and his earning capacity exceed that of 
his less schooled brother, he does not necessarily excel him in 
an understanding of those deeper issues of life with which 
higher education should be, but unfortunately is not, concerned. 
College men arc quite as unhappy as illiterates; in fact their 
capacity for sorrow is enlarged, for their curriculum has 
acquainted them with a legion of miseries to which the un- 
educated are immune. All too often schooling complicates 
uncertainties, multiplies doubts, generates disquietudes, and 
verifies the growing suspicion that all creation is awry. Instead 
of solving problems modern education complicates them. 
Reacting to this divergence of dictum and tenet, the mind 
schooled beyond its capacity either rejects them in toto to 
become a philosophic atheist, or making a show of digesting 
them becomes unbearably sophisticated. The defection of 
modern youth from education is more than a surface symptom. 
The student is content to slip through college with mediocre 
grades because he is firmly convinced that all the knowledge 
he can ever hope to secure is nugatory in solving the imminent 
problems of his life. Hence the chief incentive for distinction 
in scholarship is removed. 

When the modern college rose as a substitute for the ancient 
collegia, it fell heir to its task but not to its toga. While the 
collegia of Greece and Rome were the domiciles of a tran- 
scendent learning under the patronage of the gods and heroes, 
the colleges of today are but hollow imitations of these 
older and nobler institutions. In comparison to that sublimcr 
knowledge disseminated by these ancient schools, modern 
houses of learning have become dispensaries of but the husks 
of knowledge. The illustrious record of the past must not 
be erased from man's memory; modern methods on the other 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

hand must be recast into a more sufficient mold, for the morbid 
materialism of this age can only be dispelled by educating the 
juvenile mind in the principles of higher rationality. 

In antiquity the roads of lower education led, like the con- 
verging spokes of a wheel, toward the Mysteries. Knowledge 
was then an actuality, and the byways of speculative thought, 
though tortuous, eventually led to the open gates of operative 
knowing. Those who excelled in temporal education, by right 
of their superior mentality and integrity were permitted to 
enter that inner sanctuary where the principles of divine 
knowledge were unfolded. Here the mind was diverted from 
the course of materiality, and initiated into those secrets of 
spiritual comprehension which bestows tranquility, compassion, 
and comprehension. Higher education began where lower 
education ceased, and all who sincerely desired to know were 
privileged to receive knowledge up to the limits of their own 
capacity. The arts and sciences of men were revealed to be 
but outer garments of a divine spirit — the concealments of a 
superior science, the science of living. Today all this has been 
swept aside, and the advanced bodies of learning arc unable to 
confer that more adequate interpretation, for lack of which 
education necessarily fails. How little true incentive there is 
for scholastic greatness when he who has learned all that men 
can teach finds naught but disenchantment in the inadequacy 
of the whole system. When the masters of a science confess 
their ignorance of the very principles which are the daily 
subjects of their speculations, what shall it profit a man to sit 
at their feet and spend his years in the determination of the 
exact degree of ignorance possessed by his mentors? 

Is it not possible that man comes into this physical world 
better fitted to function in harmony with rationality than after 
passing through what we like to term our course of culture, 
wherein the divine impulses toward the virtuous and the 
beautiful are stunted and the integrity of the nature incurably 
upset? Man is fortunate indeed if his education does not 
render him incapable of knowing. As Paracelsus might have 
said: “He is best served by education who is least injured by it” 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 329 

A great thinker is one who by some strange Providence has 
escaped the pitfalls of mediocrity unwittingly dug by men to 
entrap genius. “All the world,” wrote Emerson, “is at hazard 
when God lets loose a thinker.” Humanity seems to fear an 
intellect which is great enough to destroy our prevalent sense 
of smugness and complacency. We are naturally inclined 
toward inertia; whether comfortably or uncomfortably we 
prefer to vegetate, and woe unto him who dares disturb our 
proletarian serenity. Humanity chooses to languish in the 
darkness of things as they are for fear that the godlike splendor 
of things as they might be will also uncover humanity’s foibles 
and impose the burden of their correction. Knowledge is a 
responsibility, and responsibility is a term formidable and dis- 

No better epitome of the enslavement of the intellect by 
education can be found than Alexander Pope’s excoriation of 
pedantism in the fourth book of The Dunciad — The Epic of 
the Dunces. The pedagogues of every land arc here personified 
by a specter whose index finger the virtue of the dreadful 
wand holds forth, and whose beavered brow a birchen garland 
wears. Preceptor of an awful knowledge, the bloodless lips of 
this spectral doctrinaire speak out the mandates of the 

Since man from beast by words is known. 

Words are man’s province, words we teach alone. 

When reason doubtful, like the Samian letter, 

Points him two ways, the narrower is the better. 

Placed at the door of learning, youth to guide, 

We never suffer it to stand too wide. 

To ask, to guess, to know, as they commence, 

As Fancy opens the quick springs of Sense, 

We ply the Memory, we load the Brain, 

Bind rebel wit, and double chain on chain, 

Confine the thought, to exercise the breath, 

And keep them in the pale of worlds til! death. 

Whate’er the talents, or howe’er design’d, 

We hang one jingling padlock on the mind. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

How utterly we have become the servants of words, elevating 
mere terms to the degree of infallibility! While it is fitting that 
we should regard them as media of intercourse, is there not an 
understanding which is superior to words— a silent language 
by which comprehension blends with comprehension, a tran* 
scendent mode by which the within which is you communes 
with the within which is / and we together commune with 
that within which is All? Do not the stars upon their lofty 
thrones commune by a strange silence with each other, by 
wordless tongue and soundless voice uniting in a common 
knowing far beyond the ken of mortal apprehension? With 
upright larynx, does man so greatly excel all other creatures 
that he shall achieve glory by virtue of his lips alone? If he 
earns a crown, must he wear it on his tongue? 

Words are but the infinite diversity of sound, and by many 
a curious gasp and rattle do we make our whimsies known. 
We live in a universe of words; terms and letters continually 
intervene to become the agencies of endless misunderstanding. 
As the memorizer of words is not a thinker, so the cloth of 
philosophic terminology cannot make the philosopher. Words 
are but names for unknown quantities and conditions— no more; 
for words are powerless to acquaint us with the inner natures 
whose qualities they bound. In Genesis it is declared that 
Adam went forth and named all creatures, and following his 
example men have never ceased to coin appclations with which 
to designate or describe the objects and conditions of environ- 
ment. By appropriate terms the heaven and earth came to be 
defined, but how different from wordy definition is the com- 
prehending nature of those polynomial powers which, founded 
in eternity, verge toward time just enough to be vaguely appre- 

Picture the enlightenment of the proverbial inquisitive 
schoolboy who, pointing to a growing mystery of leaves and 
stems, presents his instructor with this poser: “Master, what is 
this living, unfolding thing?” And he in whom the acumen 
of the past is presumed to be concentrated can only reply: 
“My boy, that is a tree!” The teacher might also very consis- 

Exotf.ric and Esoteric Knowledge 


tcntly have added: "We know it is a tree, for we named it 
ourselves.” Groping after realities the juvenile mind is con- 
fronted with nothing but the limiting, strangling bonds of 
terms. As he passes through the various stages of education 
the pupil is familiarized with all the relatively inconsequential 
opinions we share concerning the subject of trees. Through 
a cross section of their trunks he studies their inner constitu- 
tion, and with the microscope may see the roots that terminate 
in hungry mouths, or the infinitely minute life-particles that 
conspire to produce leaf and stem. Yet of tree itself — the 
mystery of that intangible something which expands from a 
tiny seed and surrounds itself with bark— man can discover 

Thus education turns us from the consideration of living 
realities to cherish the baseless notions of our sires. While the 
heavenly orbs march on in majestic file to a glorious and un- 
limited destiny; while the whole universe, celestial and terres- 
trial, thrills with vibrant actualities and thunders on in concord 
with cosmic principle, humanity concerns itself with the trivial- 
ities of its cultural codes. Men turn their backs upon the 
midnight sky, whose immensity frightens them and dissipates 
their bombast, to the infantile task imposed by their culture of 
choosing the proper fork or frock for a formal banquet. 
Having familiarized themselves with the decrees of fashion in 
these respects, such little minds rest upon the oars of petty ac- 
complishment until natural decay returns their ashes to the 
common Mother. Fascinated by the insignificant and be- 
wildered by the real, oblivious to the distant and terrified by 
the imminent, mortals live by the meanest of their codes and 
choose mediocrity as the path of ease. 

The value of present-day education is not to be discounted, 
but its superficiality is to be condemned. It may have value 
as a means, but it is wholly inadequate as an end; for it cannot 
supply that knowledge indispensable to right-living. If per- 
meated by a sort of philosophic optimism concerning the 
ultima tes of knowledge, and leavened by the ancient pro- 
cedures and disciplines, material education could prepare its 

332 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

votaries for those loftier forms of learning for lack of which 
the nations perish. So long as education assumes that knowl- 
edge beyond its own prescribed domain is unavailable, it is 
false to the great need of humanity. Unfortunately, this is 
the assumption prevalent in the bodies of so-called higher 
learning. Ridicule is heaped upon the ancients for their 
“superstitions”; the esoteric doctrines are declared to have been 
idle rumors generated in the perfervid imaginations of un- 
balanced fanatics, who were consequently branded charlatans, 
adventurers, and impostors. Mindful of the claims of con- 
sistency, should we not condemn as impostors those schools 
which supply mere notions in lieu of actual knowledge and 
declare the individual to be “educated” though totally ignorant 
of every vital issue of existence? Graduates of modern educa- 
tional institutions are presented with impressive diplomas, 
which too often are the most tangible evidence of scholastic 

In his Discourse on Initiation , Hermes elucidates to his son 
Tatian the subject of spiritual education. The oration moves 
rhythmically and majestically upon the theme of appreciation, 
and may be summed up in the single thought that apprecia- 
tion for Universal Good is the beginning of wisdom. Educa- 
tion is here revealed as the discipline whereby man is rendered 
capable of appreciating divine order and made susceptible to 
its redeeming impulses. Tatian is instructed by his immortal 
father in the discovery of God in these words: 

“If thou wouldst contemplate the Creator even in perish- 
able things, in things which are on the earth, or in the deep, 
reflect, O my son, on the formation of man in his mother’s 
womb; contemplate carefully the skill of the Workman; learn 
to know him according to the divine beauty of the work. 
Who formed the orb of the eye? Who pierced the openings of 
the nostrils and of the ears? Who made the mouth to open? 
Who traced out the channels of the veins? Who made the 
bones hard? Who covered the flesh with skin? Who separated 
the fingers and the toes? Who made the feet broad? Who 
hollowed out the pores? Who spread out the spleen? Who 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


formed the heart like a pyramid? Who made the sides wide? 
Who formed the caverns of the lungs? Who made the honour- 
able parts of the body conspicuous, and concealed the others? 
See how much skill is bestowed in one species of matter, how 
much labour on one single work; everywhere there is beauty, 
everywhere perfection, everywhere variety. Who made all 
these things? Who is the mother, who is the father, if it be 
not the only and invisible God, who has created all things by 
his will?” 

Alcibiades, the Greek patrician who nursed within his breast 
senatorial aspirations, submitted to an inventory of his mental 
and ethical qualifications at the hands of Socrates, who there- 
upon demonstrated that the sole asset of the youth consisted 
of a vague proficiency in strumming the lyre, the ability to 
recite poetry not too badly, and an indifferent prowess in the 
gymnasium. Holding up the mirror of rationality before 
Alcibiades, Socrates convinced the would-be guardian of the 
sovereignty of Athens that he lacked sufficient intelligence to 
administer his own affairs, let alone those of the Athenian 
commonwealth. Times have changed since those golden days 
when Skeptic and Peripatetic roamed the Athenian byways, 
but the spirit of Alcibiades still lives. What matters it if his 
lyre has now become the saxophone, his quoit and javelin the 
ball and bat, and his poetic fancies chiefly concerned with 
carolling the virtues of his Alma Mater? The 20th-century 
Alcibiades still goes forth full of purpose but woefully empty 
of knowledge and for lack of a Socrates may actually become 
a senator and tax the resources of Providence to preserve the 
integrity of the commonwealth. 

The universalization of educational opportunity is the 
exalted purpose of today. The body politic enthusiastically 
supports every issue which encourages and facilitates the pro- 
mulgation of learning. Impressive institutions for the instruc- 
tion of the young are the civic pride of every community, 
and like the cathedrals of medieval Europe shadow the teeming 
city spread out around them. We have deified education and 
built temples to the spirit of wisdom even as antiquity gilded 

334 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

shrines for the gods of yore. Nevertheless, to us education is 
still but a word— a wonderful word, truly implying all that 
is noble, all that is beautiful, all that is true. Yet how far 
docs the practice fall short of the premise; how vast the interval 
between the implication and the fact! The education for 
which men have even given their lives and which they have 
preserved at fearful cost through the world’s Dark Ages; the 
education which the seekers of every age have sought with 
whole-souled longing; the education that was the very bounty 
of the gods and the evidence of their perfect covenant with 
men— this education has failed from the earth. Knowledge 
has retired again into that Stygian darkness from which the 
first philosophers called it forth by strange rite and sacrificial 
deed. We live in a day of material enlightenment, but pro- 
found indeed is our ethical and philosophic benightedness. 

There is a supreme Educator, an all-knowing Preceptor, 
an all-wise Counsellor, an all-sufficient Guide, whose integrity 
dwarfs that of any mortal man. Deep in the inner recesses 
of our own souls, but obscured by the hallucinations of the 
senses, is Mercury’s inexhaustible pitcher — an infinite capacity 
which, though ever flowing, is ever full. Man’s only educator 
is this inner self which alone is capable of sifting fact from 
fancy. The drawing forth of this inner knowledge and its 
establishment as the ever-sufficient and comprehending director 
of the outer life is the true office of education. Educo, then, 
signifies to draw forth; and education is that mental process 
of the outer mind by which is evoked as though by magic 
the mighty genius that, like a sleeping giant, is man’s unsus- 
pected strength. Truth, then, comes from within, fancies 
from without; and never will education fully solve the prob- 
lems that are its peculiar province until it equips unfolding 
manhood and womanhood with the keys by which this treasure 
house of inner potentialities may be unlocked. As through a 
glass darkly can even now be glimpsed that tomorrow of 
education when, grasping with fuller realization the purpose 
of its own existence, die school assumes the fullness of its role 

Exoteric and Esoteric Knowledge 


by becoming the dispenser of those disciplines by which man 
may release the greater Thinker within. 

How removed from the frenzied searcher after temporal 
knowledge is the calm and certain Master of the Hidden Path! 
The philosopher does not gaze at the stars through man-made 
telescopes alone, but by the transcendency of his internal 
faculties he is lifted up and taken into the very soul of the 
star itself. He feels its life throbbing through him, and irom 
his place within its very heart he learns its innermost secrets. 
Mingling through his inner self with the inner selves of all 
things, the truly educated one thus exchanges vain fancy and 
speculation for the perfect understanding. The soul in him 
communes with the soul in his world, and both share in a 
common felicity. He sees, he senses, and he feels, thus coming 
into possession of countless esoteric secrets which, though his 
very own, he cannot impart to others nor even explain to that 
inferior self which is in bondage to the sphere of ignorance. 


In symbolism the straight line is considered masculine and significant of 
the curved line feminine and significant of beauty. In the Cabala the tvv ?£ U fy# 
Strength and Beauty, support the arch of the Universal House. In the 
the male and female elements are combined, and thus Cosmos, the Divine An<"°»’ 
comes into being. 


Symbolism, the Universal Language 

A SYMBOL is a form designed to portray some abstract 
^ ** quality. A symbol must convey an impression; it must 
cause the mind to see something which, though not actually in 
the symbol itself, is suggested by the symbol. Through the 
familiar is thus shadowed forth the unfamiliar; through the 
commonplace that which is not commonplace is made evident. 
Symbols are forms, but the principles for which they stand 
so transcend the boundaries of form that they can only be sensed 
by reading into the symbol certain abstract elements, or by 
grasping with internal comprehension that greater profundity 
which the symbol does not contain but whose existence it 
intimates. Symbols are also employed to epitomize. A whole 
universe may be summarized in a single star, and vast issues 
by being reduced to their simple elements may be rendered 
intelligible. By clothing the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar 
the mind is enabled to grasp with a certain measure of accuracy 
the significance of the unknown. 

We must re-emphasize the point stressed in our opening 
chapter; namely, that as symbols increase in complexity they 
decrease in power. Thus the simple figures set forth immensi- 
ties; the compound figures parvitudes. Increasing definition 
causes qualities to verge toward form; hence the more intricate 
the figure the more it is concerned with particulars and the 
narrower becomes the scope of its symbolism. One of the true 
purposes of symbols is to preserve ideas in an indefinite state 
so that their lucidity shall not be obscured by unnecessary form 
involvement. Between symbolism and caricature there is a 
slight fundamental difference. As a personality may often be 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

most truthfully depicted by the exaggeration of certain char- 
acteristics, so symbols may convey an adequate likeness of a 
quality and still in no appreciable way resemble the quality. 
In the last analysis, man is not simply a body but rather a 
bundle of characteristics which confer upon his objective nature 
a certain temperament or individuality. By deftly accentuating 
the idiosyncrasies of character with a few heartless lines, the 
caricaturist exposes the deformities of rationality and thus 
portrays the man as he really is. The art of caricatpre follows 
certain cardinal principles in recognition of the impressions 
innate in forms and orders. Breadth, for example, is always 
associated with optimism, length with pessimism. Hence to 
broaden the head gives the impression of mental sufficiency, 
or broadmindedness; to broaden the body suggests a certain 
substantiality. To narrow the head causes the impression of 
intolerance, or narrowness of outlook; to lengthen the body 
oppresses the mind with a feeling of melancholy. Angles con- 
vey the impression of strength; curves of beauty. Harmonious 
combination of angles and curves invoke concord; inhar- 
monious combinations produce discord. Definite reactions are 
thus produced by simple lines or combinations of lines. Colors 
and sounds also possess similar powers of mental and emotional 

Consciously or unconsciously, the shape and arrangement 
of bodies with which we come in close contact thus profoundly 
influence our dispositions. Definite mental reactions are caused 
by contemplation of the symmetrical Pythagorean solids, for 
all natural bodies contain a force generated by their own 
organization which leaves its subtle record on the inner sen- 
sibilities of man. By accentuating this force according to a 
definite procedure certain mental attitudes can be stimulated, 
and in recognition of this principle the Mysteries recommend 
that their initiates meditate upon certain emblems or figures 
prepared with this end in view. In common with the laws 
of caricature, symbolism secures emphasis by distortion, har- 
mony by conventionalization, and force by simplicity. In great 
measure, art is the process of elimination. Symbolism reveals 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


the necessary by eliminating the unnecessary, and emphasizes 
the real by disregarding the superficial which obscures the real. 
In this respect symbolism verges toward the diagrammatic, for 
through diagrams processes are made evident. Phenomenon 
when stripped of its outer part reveals the laws by which it 
exists and manifests. Being chiefly concerned with those few 
primary principles which are the basis of infinite diversity, 
philosophy finds in symbolism not only a language singularly 
qualified to disseminate fundamental premises, but a method 
whereby universal ideas are communicated without passing 
them through the sphere of particulars. 

Symbolism thus embodies most fully the requisites of the 
perfect medium of education. Every symbol is a definite 
stimulus to the mind, and has the delightful faculty of reflecting 
the moods of the mind attempting to analyze its parts. In 
other words, a symbol always means what we think it means. 
Dealing with incorporeal substance, it takes on, chamcleonlike, 
the interpretive attitudes of its interpreter. Through the sym- 
bols the individual thus discovers not what symbols mean but 
rather what he knows himself. In the effort to understand 
what the first symbolist concealed under his figures, the re- 
sources of the mind are stimulated to reveal their own fecun- 
dity. Thus emblematic figures and fables draw out from the 
individual analyzing them the sum and substance of his own 
understanding. By studying symbols men learn about them- 
selves; for they read into the figures their own hopes and 
aspirations, their own concepts of universal order, and their 
own understanding of divine agency. To some degree is thus 
explained the diversity of codes by which the affairs of men 
are regulated. Life itself is a symbol, and each must interpret 
it according to the convictions of his own soul. As we look 
about we see a universe which, whether we know it or not, 
is simply our inner convictions reflected back to us from the 
polished surface of nature. 

In Lazarus Laughed , Eugene O’Neill causes his hero to thus 
taunt Gaius Caligula, the heir of Tiberius Caesar: “But what 
do you matter, O Deathly-Important One? Put yourself that 

340 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

question— as a jester! Are you a speck of dust danced in the 
wind? Then laugh, dancing! Laugh yes to your insignificance I 
Thereby will be born your new greatness! * * # Tragic is the 
plight of the tragedian whose only audience is himself! Life 
is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors. Terri- 
fied is Caligula by the faces he makes! But I tell you to 
laugh in the mirror, that seeing your life gay, you may 
begin to live as a guest, and not as a condemned one!’’ 

The nonphilosophic suffer from a disease which may best 
be termed superficiality, Man’s thinking ever fails because of 
its shallowness. He often mistakes breadth for depth, believing 
that with but a hasty scrutiny he can become familiar with 
any object. Superficiality generally springs from indifference, 
and necessarily produces mediocrity. Our interests ever lie 
with the familiar, and for the unfamiliar we have no emotion 
save indifference. By stimulating interest, philosophy causes 
man to regard an ever-widening circle of incident as a proper 
field for his speculation. Thus the man, formerly oblivious to 
the wonders of the* universe about him, suddenly comes to 
realize their existence, and with growing enthusiasm applies 
himself to the garnering of knowledge. The study of sym- 
bolism causes the mind to develop what may be defined as 
philosophic suspicion. Instead of accepting things at their 
face value, the symbolist searches for their hidden motives— 
those invisible agencies which are the animate causes of ap- 
parently inanimate objects. When the mind comes instinctively 
to regard forms as the outer garments of realities, great strides 
have been taken in the rationalization of the entire nature. 
Man begins to know as soon as he divests himself of the illusion 
that the universe is material and matter the divine reality. 

From this realization it is but a step to the comprehension 
that truth does not exist in matter but must be sought for 
behind the veil of matter. The physical (or irrational) mind 
is incapable of comprehending a single absolute fact; for abiding 
in the sphere of relative conclusions it necessarily lacks the 
accuracy of exact procedure. Symbolism discloses the relation- 
ship of an intangible agent to its tangible subject; it renders 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


conceivable that interval between the invisible— which is the 
fact— and the visible — which is the fancy. Even a photograph 
is fanciful and misleading when compared to a cleverly drawn 
caricature; for while the caricature may but slightly resemble 
the physical appearance it is still more discerning than the 
camera’s eye. Our physical personalities thus reveal us as we 
seem to be, but our intangible individualities continually reveal 
us as we are. Unfortunately for others, but comfortable for 
ourselves, the number able to read the intangible characteristics 
are few; otherwise our mortification would overwhelm us. 
Yet, in reality, our truest friend is the one who points out to 
us that which it is so difficult for us to estimate for ourselves — 
namely, the quality and compatibility of our intangible parts. 

Symbolism should be employed throughout the process of 
education, for by it two definite ends are attainable. First, the 
student will instinctively reveal to the teacher the constitution 
of his reasoning part by the interpretation he places upon the 
symbols; second, the student will be stimulated to originality 
and thereby preserve the peculiar technique of his own rational 
processes. The death of originality is the death of genius. 
Symbolism encourages originality, and hence is productive of 
genius. Symbols can be devised to induce almost any desired 
phase of thought or emotion. By the use of emblematic figures 
alone, abnormality can be corrected and subnormality raised 
to a normal state. Paracelsus discovered that words written 
upon parchment when held up before animals produce as 
definite results as though the words were spoken, although it 
is evident that the animal cannot read. Combinations of letters, 
magical symbols, and curious figures, radiate definite impres- 
sions, and from the realization of this fact must ultimately 
emerge a new form of corrective therapy in which the medi- 
cine will be administered through the channel of sight. The 
eyes are peculiarly responsive and the process of visualization 
already borders upon the psychic, for the impressions trans- 
mitted by the eyes to the brain arc exceedingly subtle and 
powerful beyond imagination. The reactions set up through 
the sight of definite forms or patterns have not yet been 

342 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

thoroughly catalogued. When this work is finished we will 
understand far more intelligently the motives producing joy 
and sorrow, sickness and health, vice and virtue. The environ- 
ment contacted by the individual through the medium of the 
eyes molds him profoundly, and even his status in the world 
itself is a key to the temperaments that surge within his 

In his General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Freud at- 
tempts to relate certain primitive motives of the soul with 
dreams, in this way disclosing a subconscious faculty of associa- 
tion in the human mind by which external objects, through 
either appearance or use, become media for the expression of 
psychic impulses. Freud is dealing with what Plato would 
call the animal soul — that part of the psychic nature which has 
assumed the idea of generation and which constitutes the 
ceaseless urge toward the establishment of forms. Obsessed 
with the idea of polarity, the generating soul causes to flow 
from itself those impulses which Freud analyzes under the 
general subject of sex psychology. He maintains that the 
peculiar soul power which manifests while the functioning 
organism is asleep is concerned primarily with the principles 
of generation, and the sleep symbols are largely of a phallic 
nature. This is incontestible evidence that the earliest religions 
of mankind were priapic cults and based upon the generating 
urge of the soul. Clothing itself in appropriate forms, this 
impulse resulted in strange fables and figures which are now 
almost dissociated from the primary impulses that inspired 
them. Though having but few interests, the animal soul often 
employs a diversity of symbols to signify its attitudes. Thou- 
sands of emblems and figures are used to represent a single 
idea. The animal soul is interested in neither religion nor 
philosophy, and our mental concepts are its playthings. The 
animal soul is primarily concerned with the laws of attraction 
and reproduction; its duty is to perpetuate the species and it 
knows no ethics beyond this limited field. 

Freud infers that dream symbols can be reduced to a very 
simple alphabet of symbolism. Clothing its urges in the 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


familiar, the soul creates its alphabet during physical infancy 
and childhood and retains it throughout life. As humanity 
thus preserves in its religion and philosophy the simple ele- 
ments which dominated its attitudes during the most primitive 
periods, so the adult man or woman clothes these soul impulses 
in those figures and similes which were impressed upon the 
outer nature during adolescence. It is comparatively easy to 
understand how most symbols come to have a phallic import. 
All forms are generations, and all generations are emblematic 
of the processes by which they themselves came into being. 
To the individual who functions in the animal nature — that 
is, where the rational soul has not disengaged itself from the 
involvements of the corporeal senses— there is no sphere of 
interpretation above that of generation. To those who by the 
disciplines and procedures of the higher life have transmuted 
or regenerated their inferior natures, a loftier sphere of inter- 
pretation is rendered apprehensible. Transcending the idea of 
generation, the philosopher discovers in the symbol a meaning 
more exalted than that concerned with reproductive processes. 
Not only is there the animal soul which clings tenaciously to 
form, but there is also the divine (rational) soul which verges 
ever toward Reality. Above that part which conceives genera- 
tion to be the supreme function there is that which contemplates 
the deathlessness and permanence of the Supreme Good, real- 
izing that Divinity is ungenerate and transcends in every 
respect the limitations of mortal procedure. 

Symbols consequently change their meanings according to 
the level of intelligence upon which their interpreter functions. 
The purpose of symbols is to uncover the limitations of mortal 
consciousness by continually emphasizing the insufficiency of 
the interpretations placed upon them. Confronted by a symbol, 
every man recognizes the uncertainties of his own nature. 
Being never sure that he is correct in his interpretation he is 
made to realize his heritage in that common uncertainty 
shared by all ages and all men. The insufficiency of modern 
so-called knowledge is evident the moment the mind is invited 
to reflect upon problems involving certitudes. Thus faced, 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the intellect hesitates and becomes confused. Our thinking is 
sufficient until it becomes necessary to trust ourselves to its 
mercy, when it retires abashed, informing us unmistakably of 
its incapacity. The paradox of knowledge is that knowledge 
does not exist, for we claim already that for which in reality 
we are searching. Modern knowledge is not a discovery of 
facts but the effort to discover facts, and there are great 
moments when the truth of this apparent contradiction is 
brought home to us. 

There is a popular fallacy that we grow by change. Like 
the ironic method described and employed by Socrates, change 
is inseparable from the elements of pain and sorrow. We 
advance but slowly when every new discovery must contradict 
those gone before; when every new philosopher must give the 
lie to his predecessors and every new order depends for its 
success upon the destruction of previous orders. A little apple 
tree does not change into a lemon tree while in the process 
of becoming a big apple tree, nor does truth change its identity 
in the process of being understood. Every great mind evolves 
by a sequential process; it does not tear down previous con- 
clusions to make room for new. A growing tree increases 
from a single shoot to a miracle of branches and foliage, yet 
nowhere is there any inconsistency or contradiction in the 
process. The trunk is not destroyed that a new branch may 
come forth, nor is the tree uprooted to make room for its own 
fruit. Each manifestation depends upon that which preceded 
it, and in turn finds its consummation in that which issues 
from it. From the first quickening of its seed the tree moves 
inevitably toward a single end; at every step of the way its 
procedures complement each other and unite in the realization 
of that end. This perfect co-operation of parts results not only 
in the tree maintaining its homogeneity and attaining its end 
with the least expenditure of energy and time, but demonstrates 
the exactness of the power that willed it into being. Never 
will the world think well until men reason as trees grow— 
causing to issue from the single trunk of rational certainty the 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


foliage of thoughts which, clustered symmetrically about their 
center, impart grace and dignity to the whole. 

In their ignorance men make laws, only later to find them 
faulty. Then, lest their infractions of these laws seem too 
flagrant, they amend their former errors with fresh errors in 
the effort to render their own conceits endurable. The various 
schisms in the body of religion seek to mollify their differences 
by resorting to condescension or modification. Their com- 
promises, however, are a glaring confession that neither pos- 
sesses enough of fact to insure survival. So age after age man 
—who according to the pagan astrologers was fashioned under 
the influences of Cancer — still demonstrates his kinship to the 
crab by making most of his progress in a backward fashion. 
It is more than a seven days’ wonder that institutions of im- 
portance have to be saved from extinction by periodic renova- 
tion, or have their authority curbed lest their intolerance over- 
shadow and endanger personal or national liberties. 

Philosophy declares that the first step in the development 
of rational powers is to establish them upon an immovable 
foundation, so that the mind in its unfoldment will not be 
forced periodically to overthrow previous attitudes, but con- 
tinually to supplement and justify them. To realize this ideal 
it is necessary that the first postulations of the intellect shall 
be vast enough or sufficient in scope so that dl subsequent 
thinking will not be forced to exceed the boundaries of these 
first assumptions . Men waste a lifetime devising new methods 
of thought, only to realize at the end that they have outgrown 
their own premises; that their building is top-heavy; and that 
in the architectonics of intellect their edifice of theories is 
grotesque and inharmonious. As all the agencies of the tree 
conspire to consummate its purpose— namely, fruitage— so all 
the agencies of thought conspire to produce the fruitage of the 
mind. Lacking the wisdom of the tree man all too often finds 
his roots and trunk structurally too insecure to bear the weight 
of the ripening fruit. 

The eclectic spirit prevalent in this century is largely re- 
sponsible for this condition. Men do not thinks their thoughts 

346 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

through. Viewing a fractional part of an idea, they are con- 
tent with its apparent consistency, failing to realize that it may 
have no place at all in that greater picture composed of infinite 
ideas combined in most complex patterns. We do not apply 
Immanuel Kant’s Critique by which he measured the justifiable- 
ness of assumptions. We might ask ourselves, “If the whole 
universe were run by the same principles as my own little 
notions, would the world still be sufficient to meet the needs 
of the vast order which it maintains; if my little whim were 
elevated to the dignity of a divine reality, would it serve all 
men; if my thoughts were laws, would there be justice in 
creation?” These are the questions which intrude their presence 
upon the mind seeking to think things through, often to their 
bitter end. It is not sufficient that an idea should tickle our 
sensibilities or give us a pleasant emotional thrill. It is neces- 
sary that the idea should stand the acid test of analysis. It 
must survive the heartless process of thinking through . We 
say “heartless,” for few notions — except that they proceed from 
rationalities so noble that notions have become permissible to 
them— can survive even the first stages of analysis. 

Symbolism re-emphasizes the necessity of approaching every 
issue with an adequate philosophic background. Confront the 
untrained mind with some symbol or fable, and it will con- 
struct a confused and meaningless explanation, usually far 
more complex than the figure warrants, and as senseless as a 
macaw’s chatter. Few of us have had the success of Samuel 
Johnson in protecting the intellect against the assaults of words. 
In the preface to his dictionary he writes: “I am nof yet so lost 
in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of 
the earth, and that things are the sons of heaven.” The 
superficial thinker reasons in terms of words alone; the pro- 
found thinker so venerates the meaning of words that he 
conserves his language. We must all realize that it is beyond 
man’s province to comprehend one third of what he says and 
sacrilegious to talk much with little understanding. Whereas 
the mediocre intellect is capable of ministering to physical 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 347 

needs, it is decreed that in the more exalted realms of ration- 
ality the mediocre shall pass into the oblivion of the disqualified. 

Man can never hope to escape the limitations of his own 
irrationality; whenever he attempts to transcend himself, his 
insufficiency blocks his way. The struggle must ever be to 
overcome insufficiency; to establish within the self an intellectual 
adequacy in which the mind acquires a competency for its 
problems. Symbolism stimulates the healthy mind that has 
been introduced to the disciplines of philosophy, but bewilders 
the unorganized thinker. No mind is really sufficient for its 
own needs until it has learned to act as a connective tissue 
between ideas. Isolated thoughts are comparatively valueless, 
for the probability of error is too imminent. An impractical 
thought, then, is one that can survive only in an isolated state; 
a practical thought one that survives repeated contact with 
competitive ideas. To study symbols is dangerous for the 
immature mind, for the practice will only compound absurdities 
and establish more firmly irrational habits of thought. Hence 
the ancient Mysteries circulated among the masses definite 
interpretations of their symbols and allegories, encouraging the 
untrained thinker to accept these expositions and wonder no 
more on the subject. Had this not been done a wild orgy of 
misinterpretation would have followed, and erroneous specula- 
tions without number would have found lodgement in minds 
incapable of recognizing and protecting themselves against 
these incongruities. Thus in symbolism the profound inves- 
tigator will discover that the real is ever concealed beneath the 
superficial. He who is contented with the superficial will 
consequently never discover the real, and so from age to age 
the arcana of ancient philosophy have been preserved inviolate 
at the hands of the unprepared. These secrets are their own 
custodians, revealing themselves only to such as refuse to 
accept any substitute for truth, or any part of knowledge less 
than all. 

Two oft-repeated questions are, “Why is it so easy to deceive 
people in matters pertaining to religion or philosophy,” and 
“Why are the best educated the most gullible?” The answer 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

to the first is self-evident. Theology and philosophy are sciences 
dealing with intangibles. There is no criterion by which 
their integrity can be questioned or established save that of a 
rational mind qualified by its own integrity to weigh and pass 
judgment upon the elements involved. These divine sciences 
so completely transcend the limitations of the sense perceptions 
by which mortal concerns are estimated that every code of 
physical integrity is inapplicable to them. There is nothing 
tangible and evident with which to associate these abstruse 
verities, and the investigator must appoint himself their in- 
quisitor. As all life’s great realities exist in this intangible 
sphere — which we like to term the invisible or causal universe 
—the problems of existence can never be actually solved except 
by the exploring faculties of a rationalized intellect. The second 
question is based upon the unfortunate fact that education, 
while in some instances increasing the tolerant attitude, all 
too often fails to increase the integrity so that it can properly 
direct tolerance. The educated man is usually one who has 
been instructed in the enormity of his own ignorance, and is 
therefore inclined to believe that anything may be true. On 
the other hand, the uneducated man is generally very set in 
his opinions and hence difficult to convince even of demon- 
strable facts. A scientist is frequently a disillusioned man. 
He has been undeceived as to the sufficiency of knowledge and 
is correspondingly gullible. Camille Flammarion declared 
that there was but one attitude of the mind more dangerous 
than that which accepted everything: namely, the attitude that 
accepted nothing. The materialist who understands practically 
nothing believes practically nothing. 

The ignorant must ultimately become his own executioner. 
Thus the struggle for knowledge becomes identical with the 
struggle for survival; for only knowledge insures survival. We 
are as permanent as the realities that have come to be established 
in our own natures; we are as impermanent as the fancies that 
incline us one way or another, only to eventually leave us as 
ignorant as before. The rational faculties are man’s sole hope 
of ultimate accomplishment, and this accomplishment is iden- 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


tical with happiness; for the changes necessary to establish 
harmonious physical relationships must first descend from the 
rational sphere and come into physical manifestation through 
minds specially trained in philosophic procedure. Every child 
that is born is a potential instrument for the salvation of the 
world, and remains an unknown but all-powerful quantity 
until our physical cultural processes destroy those sensitive 
instruments of erudition by which the imperceptible verities 
of the rational sphere can be sensed. Humanity’s most precious 
assets are those developing physical brains, which as focal 
centers of mental energy radiate thought throughout the sub- 
stances of the inferior sphere. The answer to every problem, 
therefore, must be considered as existing in the rational sphere, 
awaiting that day when unfolding human brains shall be so 
disciplined in the procedures of rational thought as to become 
adequate vehicles for the manifestation of this superior knowl- 
edge in the physical world. 

Rendered prophetic by the luminosity of their inner natures, 
the sages of antiquity discoursed with rare acumen upon the 
fate of the sacred sciences at the hands of generations then 
unborn. In the Asclepian Dialogue is preserved a prophetic 
picture of the decadence of knowledge in baser ages to come. 
In those days “no one shall look up to heaven. The religious 
man shall be accounted insane, the irreligious shall be thought 
wise, the furious brave, and the worst of men shall be con- 
sidered a good man. For the soul, and all things about it, 
by which it is either naturally immortal, or conceives that it 
shall attain to immortality, conformably to what I have ex- 
plained to you, shall not only be the subject of laughter, but 
shall be considered as vanity. Believe me, likewise, that a 
capital punishment shall be appointed for him who applies 
himself to the religion of intellect. New statutes and new 
laws shall be established, and nothing religious, or which is 
worthy of heaven or celestial concerns, shall be heard, or 
believed by the mind. There will be a lamentable departure 
of the Gods from men; noxious angels will alone remain, who, 
being mingled with human nature, will violently impel the 

350 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

miserable men [of that time] to war, to rapine, to fraud, and 
to everything contrary to the nature of the soul.” 

Much of this prophecy has already been verified, for during 
the Dark Ages capital punishment was meted out to those who 
dared apply themselves to the “religion of intellect.” Philosophy 
was swept from the face of Christendom and the voices of the 
gods were drowned out by the hymns of the martyrs. Flee- 
ing before theological fanaticism, the custodians of the arcana 
imperii took refuge in the Arabian desert, finding Islam more 
receptive to philosophic instruction. Accepting Greek philos- 
ophy as a sacred trust, the Sons of the Prophet, when carried 
into southern Europe on the high tides of their fortunes, 
established in Spain universities far excelling contemporary 
Christian institutions of learning. To the colleges of the Moors 
came scholars from every part of Europe, and the lips of men 
again taught the inspired doctrines of Plato and Aristotle. 
Islam realized that the teachings of Plato and his illustrious 
disciple assisted man to liberate his soul from the entangle- 
ments of idolatry, for the four Caliphs had set for themselves 
the task of exterminating idolatry from the earth. Proclus 
declares that the philosophy of Plato was given to men for the 
benefit of their terrestrial souls; that philosophy might be 
authority instead of statutes, rationality instead of temples, 
understanding instead of sacred institutions, truth instead of 
mortal leaders of salvation, that the men who are now, as 
well as those who shall exist hereafter, might not wander about 
the earth destitute of intelligence. 

The literalist is an inveterate profaner of the beautiful. His 
attitude is a supreme blasphemy, for his art is to limit all 
natures to the narrow confines of form. He sees nothing 
beyond an appearance, mistaking the outward show for the 
inner quality and the dimensional as the only certainty. 
Whereas the idealist ever strives to elevate man to the estate 
of gods, the literalist would drag the immortals from their 
Olympian heights and debase them with the similitude of man. 
The literalist emphasizes inconsequentials; to him every jot and 
tittle is a fetish. To the literalist, symbolism is inscrutable, for 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 351 

he is incapable of distinguishing between principle as an 
abstract reality and form as the transitory vehicle of that prin- 
ciple. Religious stagnation is the wayward child of literalism. 
As long as theology clings to the blasphemous idea that to 
think is to usurp a divine prerogative, theologians are restrained 
from reasoning on the logic of the law, and only the saints 
are accredited with sufficient sanctity to contemplate the sandal 
thongs of the Lord. Quaking under their cowls, the pious 
clergy read and reread the ominous lines from Revelation 
wherein it is written. “If any man shall add unto these things, 
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this 
book.” Little wonder that the divine science of interpretation 
failed amid such hostile environment; that symbols became 
fearful images of literal terrors and the gods came to have 
as many hairs in their beards as some inspired artisan might 
carve into their Carrara features. 

Maimonides, the most learned of the Rabbins, who devoted 
a lifetime to contemplation of the Scriptures, writes thus of its 
hidden meanings and secret imports: “We should not take 
literally that which is written in the Book of the Creation 
[Genesis] nor entertain the same concepts of it as are common 
with the vulgar. If it were otherwise, our learned ancient 
sages would not have taken so much pains to conceal the sense, 
and to keep before the eyes of the uninstructed the veil of 
allegory which conceals the truths which it contains. Taken 
literally, the work contains the most extravagant and absurd 
ideas of the Deity. Whoever can guess at the true meaning 
should take care not to divulge it. This is a maxim inculcated 
by our wise men, especially in connection with the work of 
the six days. It is possible that by our own intelligence, or 
by the aid of others, some may guess the true meaning, in 
which case they should be silent respecting it; or, if they do 
speak of it, they should do so obscurely, as I myself do, leaving 
the rest to be guessed at by those who have sufficient ability to 
understand me.” 

While the literalist may believe he is defending the integrity 
of the gods, he is actually detracting from their magnificence 
by presuming them to be speakers of words when in reality 

352 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

they are disseminators of ideas. Origen asks: “What man of 
good sense will ever persuade himself that there has been a 
first, a second, and a third day and that these days have each 
of them had their morning and their evening, when there 
was as yet neither sun, nor moon, nor stars?” Even the great 
St. Augustine admitted the Scriptures to possess profound and 
unsuspected meanings, at the same time maintaining with 
characteristic inconsistency that both their literal and historical 
accuracy also should be affirmed. We shall yet realize that man 
cannot live by history alone, even though that history be 
declared sacrosanct. To studious Christian and pagan alike, 
symbolism becomes a philosophic stone whereby literal ab- 
surdities arc transmuted into allegorical realities. While little 
minds may thus thread their way through religion, those of 
greater vision—recognizing in symbolism a golden key to the 
treasure house of the world’s thought — studiously apply them- 
selves to the principles according to which all fables, allegories, 
and emblematic figures are erected. 

Another phase of symbolism presents itself for consideration. 
The literalities of one generation become the allegories of the 
next. The changing customs, the periodic redirectionalizing 
of interest, and the reinterpretation of the meanings of words 
and figures, make it most difficult for any generation to under- 
stand its forebears. Hence to interpret the ideals of one cen- 
tury in the terms of another is to lose a certain intangible 
atmosphere which cannot survive the vicissitudes of time. 
Consequently, to secure an accurate translation of Greek philo- 
sophic writing does not necessarily imply that we possess the 
information embodied in those writings. 

It has been said that no philosophy can survive translation, 
for no sacred teaching can ever be actually understood except 
by one able to transport himself into the locale and time in 
which the material was originally indited. Hence arose the 
practice of perpetuating the inner doctrines through oral tradi- 
tion, for it was presumed that each generation would reclothe 
these basic ideas with proper vestments and thus preserve them 
free from distortion at the hands of time. To understand the 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


Mysteries we must cease to live in America of the 20th cen- 
tury and assume the temperaments, attitudes, interests, and 
environments in which the Mysteries were first established. To 
understand Greek philosophy we must understand ancient 
Greece and its people. The secret teachings are always clothed 
in the terms of the familiar when revealed to the multi- 
tudes, and the familiar terms of yesterday arc not the familiar 
terms of today. The same is true of the Bible. The archaic 
Hebrew of the pre-Christian period interpreted the ideals of 
an older people of whom not one true vestige now remains. 
The Pentateuch is the living remnant of a world long dead; 
of interests which have outlived their time; of attitudes archaic 
and ethics extinct. 

If we would release the spirit of beauty locked within the 
ancient characters and make it serve this generation, we must 
divest it of its ancient robes and rcclothe it in the familiar 
habiliments of today. With rare discrimination we must sepa- 
rate the principle from its form, the living from the dead, the 
eternal from the temporal. Only the symbolist has developed 
that fine faculty of dividing the relevant from the irrelevant 
and prudently preserving that which is usable. As the archeol- 
ogist sifting the ashes of dead civilization recovers therefrom 
priceless evidence of things no longer evident, so the symbolist 
studiously examining the intellectual remains of vanished orders 
rescues from oblivion those fragments of rationality which will 
contribute to the right-thinking of the world. As the earth is 
built up of geologic strata— the rot of milleniums— so the body 
of world thought is composed of an infinite number of layers, 
in each of which may be seen the half-disintegrated remains 
of vast institutions and noble intellectual procedures. In things 
of the mind the past has not lived in vain. Those who live 
best today live by the world’s first thoughts, and the foolish 
of today still commit the same grave errors that the first 
philosophers decried. There is no such thing as modernism in 
human thought, for minds have labored since the beginning 
and the world’s first thinker reasoned out the same problems 
which the world’s last sage must ponder. The future will 

354 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

perpetuate the quest of the past, and .tomorrow is but the 
knowledge of today plus an added period for contemplation. 

A few simple rules will be of value to those desirous of 
assuming the mantle of philosophy. There are many queer 
pockets in its ancient folds, and only when they are investigated 
in order will their contents prove of highest value. It has 
well been said that there are tricks in every trade. These 
tricks are a certain “knowing how” by which accomplishment 
is facilitated. In accordance with the ancient Pythagorean 
law it is first necessary to establish the triangle before the 
solution of any problem is possible. The science of symbolism 
is accordingly based upon a threefold premise. Once the mind 
is familiarized with this triangular foundation, integrity and 
industry will discover the correct solution. 

First, every substance , object, element, and argent 
in the universe is capable of instructing man in 
those phases of divine order which are involved in 
its own constitution. In other words, everything 
can teach us of itself, and as all natures differ from 
each other to greater or lesser degree, each performs 
a definite ministry of instruction. From an earnest 
consideration of their constitutions and procedures 
man is enabled to familiarize himself with those 
laws of being to which he himself is also subject. 

Second, the more fully an individual is ac- 
quainted with the operations of the inferior uni- 
verse, the better qualified he is to contemplate the 
constitution of the causal spheres. This is a de- 
velopment of the Hermetic axiom of analogy; 
namely, that the above is like the below and the 
below like the above. The knowledge of inferiors 
is necessary to the knowledge of superiors. The 
danger arising, however, from the analysis of 
inferiors is that the mind may form an attachment 
for them and thus be rendered incapable of turning 
from them to the consideration of superiors. 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


Third, all natures should be regarded as worthy 
of profound analysis, for the deadly enemy of all 
proficiency is a superficial attitude toward any 
phase of existence . The true source of man’s edu- 
cation is not to be found in books, but lies in his 
observation of natural phenomena and his attempt 
to estimate its significance. Failure to regard any 
object as worthy of particular attention is to lose 
the opportunity to understand the superphysical 
function or characteristic which is the intangible 
but all-powerful cause of the object itself. 

Symbolism, when thus regarded, is elevated to the dignity 
of a religion, or more correctly, it becomes the means to the 
end of religion. To the philosophic atheist symbolism occupies 
the middle ground between knowledge and ignorance, becom- 
ing the divine instructor through whom the mysteries of the 
inner spheres are made apparent to the outer sense perceptions. 
Thus, instead of waiting for the heavens to open and permit 
an angelic visitant to deliver homilies from an ambo supported 
by some cumulus cloud, the symbolist liberates through rational 
procedure the ideas resident in form. These ideas thus freed 
preach their own silent but all-informative sermons. To the 
one capable of discerning God, Deity is omnipresent in His 
own handiworks. The philosopher is the continual recipient 
of divine revelation, and the gods are proximate indeed to that 
illumined sage who sees God in the fire and hears Him in 
the wind. 

The Phrygian Dactyls (physicians by magic) employed 
symbols because of the remarkable therapeutic powers they 
possessed. The figures drawn upon parchment and papyrus, 
or carved into the forms of medallions and talismans, were 
applied to the diseased members or attached to the persons of 
the sick, and thus by necromantic means dislodged the evil 
agencies conspiring to drive the spirit from its infected nature. 
Paracelsus, who secured from the Arabians many secrets of 
pagan theurgy, describes in detail the remedial agencies re- 
posing in the ancient metals, and their alloys, particularly 

356 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

electrum. Of the virtues of electrum (which he declared to be 
composed of the seven planetary metals) the great Swiss 
physician writes: “Vessels fashioned from electrum render their 
contents safe from poison and from sorcery, for this alloy 
has great sympathy for the human race. The ancients fashioned 
from this mystical substance rings, bracelets, medals, seals, 
figures, bowls, and mirrors, all possessing most wonderful 
virtues. A ring formed of electrum and worn upon the finger 
will cure lameness, paralysis, and the epilepsy. I have seen 
a ring of electrum put on the ring or heart finger of a person 
afflicted with a secret disease. The ring immediately began 
to sweat and became spotted and even went out of shape with 
sympathy for the sufferer.” 

Forms, declared the Mysteries, possess strange virtues, and 
the tracing of these forms intensifies these virtues and renders 
them potent ministrants to human ills. The Idaean fingers 
of the Samothracians and other curious effigies of human 
members were magnetized with medicinal virtues and possessed 
by a spirit whose strength was sufficient to avert plagues or 
pestilences and liberate the flesh from all manner of infirmity. 
Not only was it essential that these devices be made out of 
the proper substances, but they must be fashioned into definite 
shapes commodious to the astral light which, flowing through 
the symbol, was conjured thereby to manifest as a preservative 
or curative agent. Manipulated by the hierophants — the Patars 
who received their wisdom “through a keyhole” — these models 
and figures became as though alive. They were charged as 
with an electric current, at times glowing or radiating showers 
of sparks and miniature lightning flashes. As forms are the 
projections of invisible forces, so their artificial construction 
invokes invisible natures adapted to their geometric patterns. 
These super mundanes ensoul the objects and lend their power 
to the magus whose knowledge is sufficient to control them. 

This explains the strange phenomenon of the talking images, 
the vocal mechanisms of the ancients, the urns of prophecy, 
and the nature of oracles; for even openings in the earth, aper- 
tures in walls, and the concavities of vessels, became the abode 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 357 

of genii conformable to those capacities. Moving within their 
appointed vents and orifices, these spirits caused the phenom- 
enon of winds and strange sounds in sealed amphorae and 
subterranean crypts. Such forces are too intangible, however, 
for mortal perception, unless by secret rituals the genii have 
been invested with a certain amount of terrestrial substance. 
We shall yet rediscover the secrets of the talking urns that 
spoke with the voice of ages and through whose lips issued 
the words of men long dead. By this the ancients did not 
infer that the dead spoke through these urns, but rather that 
the words spoken during the lifetime of these men had been 
preserved in the subtle ethers of cosmos and through specially 
patterned instruments could be rendered audible again after 
the lapse of centuries. Science, the necromancy of the 20th 
century, will yet accomplish by physical means that which the 
ancient hierophants performed by their rational knowledge of 
the inner construction of the universe. 

Symbols are oracular forms— mysterious patterns creating 
vortices in the substances of the invisible world. They are 
centers of a mighty force, figures pregnant with an awful 
power which, when properly fashioned, loose fiery whirlwinds 
upon the earth. Pythagoras foretold impending disasters by 
hydromancy, for he possessed a brazen bowl which, when 
filled with water, became strangely agitated, the surface of the 
water being continually moved as though a spirit were breath- 
ing upon it. Gazing upon the agitated water the Samian 
sage foretold by the ripples in the water things which were 
to come. 

Pythagoras was also one of the “veiled” philosophers who 
revealed his instruction from behind a curtain, permitting only 
certain favored disciples to behold his face. Those desirous of 
receiving his words were instructed by an intermediary who 
stood without the door and heard the illumined discourses 
“through the crevices in the locks.” Hence the thought of 
the “keyhole” philosophers or hierophants who, never beholding 
the immortals, were the doorkeepers of the arcanum arcanorum. 
Of this order was the Apostle Peter whose name, PTR, was 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the common appellation bestowed upon the instructors in the 
sacred rites, who were indeed the “living rock” upon which 
the House of Wisdom was raised. 

Christianity, as we have it today is a philosophy revealed 
through a keyhole — a few mysterious words caught by an 
eavesdropper. This allusion, however, has a symbolic rather 
than a frivolous import. The eavesdropper was a privileged 
listener permitted to hear that which he could hear, for while 
he listened without “the banquet of the gods” was going on 
within. But only when the divinities shout most lustily do 
mortals catch even the faintest echo. Symbols are keyholes to 
doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into 
Eternity. Only to a few, however, is the privilege given to take 
the gold or silver key of the Cabalistic light and with it draw 
back the bolts that hold securely the portals of the dotnus 
sancti spirit us. 

Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are 
a celestial alphabet by which those upon the seats of the mighty 
trace their will in the fabric of the worlds. Though the 
patterns be infinite and man finite, still in the marvelous 
pageantry of emblems and figures human creatures may behold 
the workings of their heavenly masters. The meditating seer 
beholds strange figures in the sky. There are also signs upon 
the earth as well as in the heavens, and he who can read them 
is lifted up and transported into this sphere of reality. 

The Buddhist mendicant pays homage to the footprints of 
his Lord; the Egyptians caught upon stone with mallet and 
chisel the shadows of the gods; and the rational soul gazing 
out into a universe of images beholds, as it were, a mirage 
hovering above the expanse of the earth. In this dream- 
world dwell the luminous rishis of the Brahman’s contempla- 
tion; here in majestic file pass the mild-faced bodhisattvas in 
their pilgrimage through Eternity. Gazing downward from 
this mystery above, the symbolist sees faintly shadowed on the 
plains of earth this passing pageantry of supermundane things. 
To the discerning few the outlines of the gods may ever be 
traced in the flora and fauna of Nature. Hovering above 

Symbolism, the Universal Language 


terrestrial concerns, the divine orders are sensed by the inner 
perceptions and rendered knowablc by the forms which 
perpetuate their impulses. 

It is said that in ancient days God walked in the Garden, 
and the light that was with him illumined the parts dicreof. 

Nor is Deity today any more distant than yesterday, for the 

Maker of things still blesses his creations with his proximity. 
The growing grain, the ripening fruit, the tender shoots rising 
from the dark brown mold, the soft-eyed kine grazing on the 
hillside, the laughter of men— all these bear evidence of the 
invisible but ever-present Maker. God is in his world, and 
although men cannot gaze into his face and live they may 
gaze upon his works, and if they look rightly shall receive life 
more abundantly. 

The world is a symbol of the permanence of God, life a 
symbol of the presence of God, and love a symbol of the 

understanding of God. To those who are able to sense the 

inner life of things and read into forms even a small part of 
that great agency which actually ensouls them, the all-sufficiency 
of Universal Good is all-sufficing. 

Symbols are manifested of a mysterious covenant by which 
the orderliness and consistency of all natures is decreed. Sym- 
bols are indeed the peculiar language of a transcendent agent. 
Men whose ears are unfitted to hear the profundities of the 
Torah are permitted to behold the Law graven upon the 
battlements of space, flashing from the stars, and inscribed upon 
every leaf and petal. The Law thunders from the rocks, and 
in mournful cadence may be heard in the cry of the sea. All 
symbols are things standing for still greater things — the images 
of a transcendent perfectness, the witnesses of a sufficient truth, 
the Evangelists of Eternity. 


The ancient initiations were given in three chambers which signified the world* 
of the Body, the Soul, and the Spirit. After passing successfully through the hazard* 
of the rituals, the neophyte ascended to a vaulted room in which stood the robed 
figure of the Great Mystery. Thus the secrets of self-mastery were revealed to the 


Ancient Mystery Rituals 

*"P HE sophisticated pharisees of the 20th century unceas- 
ingly give thanks that they have outgrown the fables and 
rituals of the ancients. The worldly-wise love the evident and 
are exasperated by that which is not evident. Plutocrat and 
proletarian alike regard themselves as victimized by that per- 
son whose words or actions they do not understand. They love 
the obvious because it flatters them, and hate the mysterious 
because it damns their intelligence with faint praise. Riddles 
are irksome. The modern cry is for facts — facts stripped of 
their verbal trappings and denuded of nonsense. Yet with 
facts for their fetish, the modernists arc more foolish than their 
forebears. Decrying superstition, they are most superstitious; 
rejecting fancies, they are the fanciful product of a fictitious 
age. Tlie modern world is bored with its own importance; life 
itself has become a botheration. Having passed the saturation 
point of realistic culture, satiety is imminent. Suffering from 
chronic ennui, how can a world ever become interested in 
anything but itself? Smothered in their self-complacency these 
all-sufficient ones ask for facts. But what facts are there that 
fools can understand? How can the helplessly superficial 
grasp the hopelessly profound, for are not realities reserved for 
the wise? 

For even those interested in philosophy today we often 
hear the remark, "We have outgrown rituals and symbols. 
They belong to another age, some previous cycle that has spun 
its time and long since vanished into the discard.” But is it 
not more than passing strange that we should outgrow all that 
was beautiful in those worn-out ages and yet hug to ourselves 


362 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the same vices that they served all too well? We have re- 
edited and considerably amplified the first books of iniquity, 
but what of the Book of Beauty and Truth? Why have we 
torn it from its ancient covers and cast it aside? If we have 
not outgrown the evils of the past, how can we have outgrown 
its virtues? How can a man say, “I live in a new age” and 
then steal more brazenly than the Spartans, intrigue more mur- 
derously than the Egyptians, kill more wantonly than the 
Romans, and oppress more heartlessly than the Brahmans? 

Apparently, “ages” do not entirely end, for the dregs of each 
dying era are dumped into the next to become the common 
heritage of new civilizations, while the best is all too likely to 
die or remain obscured, awaiting rediscovery by a philosophic 
few. There are times when memory is a carrier of carrion, 
and when committed to writing this carrion becomes history. 
Not only have civilizations perished, but civilizations have also 
lived and exemplified some phases of the beautiful. We regard 
the past as having vanished like a dream. It seems to us unreal, 
but even as we say “The past is dead,” we ourselves die. The 
modernist cries: “Look to the future!” We follow the direction 
of his finger and, behold, there is nothing. The future is an 
unfashioned quantity; it is the highly glorified now , the minute 
stepped up to infinity. The future is a great intangible capacity 
stuffed full with the same substances of which the past is made. 
In the last analysis, both now and then shall pass away. There 
is, however, a strange philosophic now which endures, but the 
now of fools is but an instant slipping into then . The past 
is more kindly than the future; it is rich with memories and 
redundant with accomplishments. Whereas the future is the 
abode of the unborn, the past is the dwelling place of the 
immortals; for when man passes from the little now to the 
great then, he either sinks into a kindly obscurity which covers 
his faults with the mantle of forgetfulness, or his memory 
grows until men raise altars to do him homage apd the ages 
resound with his name. 

The past is the security of the wise — the sure foundation 
upon which his feet are placed; the present is the slippery 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


footing of the fool, for it passes away even while he stands 
thereon. We never outgrow the past any more than we out- 
grow our own childhood, for maturity is something added on. 
It is the complement, not the contradiction of that which 
preceded it. Remove the child from the man and he dies; 
for the child is the beginning, the point of unity from which 
all the rest springs like the oak from the acorn. The past 
is the abiding place of tender memories; of wise experiences. 
It is the fountain of beauty, life, and truth, and although this 
fountain flows through all the ages to make fertile the distant 
corners of creation, yet shall it never be greater than its own 

It is fitting that every man should venerate his tutelaries 
with some expression of the beautiful. The gods of elder days 
required no solemn convocation or bloody sacrifice, but rather 
conjured man to more virtuous living by inclining his soul 
toward those perfect rhythms which stream continually from 
the splendor of Abiding Destiny. The gods upon their eternal 
thrones rejoice not in the groveling mendicant mumbling 
threadbare litanies, but in the free man rich with the joy of 
living. Too long have the followers of a jealous and capricious 
Lord trembled in fear of his displeasure. Too long have men 
supplicated Deity to spare them yet a little while before the 
inevitable loosening of his wrath. Too long have men en- 
visioned their Creator as ;«human rather than r#/vrhuman. 
When the sanctuaries ceased to ring with the laughter of a 
happy human kind, the gods girded up their loins and departed. 
Too much of solemnity is an oppression of the spirit. He 
who venerates excessively neither loves nor understands the 
object of his veneration. 

To me, ritualism is essential to philosophy — not the ritual- 
ism of a decadent church which had its inception after the 
decline of Greek aesthetics, but the ritualism of the ancient 
pagans who served God with joy. Today we serve our faith 
with sadness, and if all the dwellers in the seven heavens were 
to perish together the sound of our lament could not be more 
piteous than those funeral hymns with which we herald the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

glad tidings of our salvation. Never should we forget the 
story of the simple-minded jester who, entering the cathedral 
and having nothing else to offer, performed his repertoire of 
tricks upon the altar before the statue of the Virgin. When, 
indignant at the impious act, the priests sought to drive the 
youth from the church, a miracle happened. The stone figure 
of the “Mother of God” came to life and bestowed its blessings 
upon the adoring juggler. The substance of faith is not dignity 
but sincerity; not formality but naturalness. Ancient religion 
was devoid of sermonizing. The words of the gods were not 
made the subjects of ecclesiastical debate. Tiresome clerics did 
not drown their congregations with a flood of pointless 
argument. A local exponent of the old-time religion recently 
offering their prayers and hanging garlands on the hermae 
chose for his subject the vital question. “Which of the twelve 
Apostles was the first to drink from the holy cup at the Last 
Supper.” After first intriguing his audience by a few anecdotes 
concerning his own childhood, the minister analyzed his text 
from every conceivable, as well as inconceivable angle. At last, 
running short of time, he postponed his conclusions on this 
matter of pith and moment until the following Sunday! All 
the while virtue continues to fail from the earth crime waxes 
strong, and there are ominous mutterings of new wars. 

The priests of the ancient temples were merely the cus- 
todians of the treasures bestowed upon the sanctuaries by the 
wealthy. The temple devotees came when it pleased them, 
of the illustrious dead. In the presence of the images of the 
immortals the thoughtful soul sought solitude. Into this inner 
silence there flowed a mysterious strength — courage to dare, 
patience to wait, vision to hope, fortitude to die. No discordant 
choir interrupted the ecstasy of enraptured meditation; no 
smug-faced deacons doled out the pews. Sanctuary was a place 
holy and inviolate— a plot of earth separate from worldly con- 
cerns where man might go to ponder the realities of life. 
Here all that was good seemed near, and all that was fearful 
far removed. 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


Wc may brand him an idolater who reverently stands in 
the presence of a great marble figure carved by the hands of 
man into the symbol of a formless power. We may say that 
no mortal sculptor could enliven an image or cut from marble 
a divinity. But imagine yourself standing within the temple 
portals. Upon its lofty pedestal before you looms the figure 
of Olympian Zeus. The face, many times life-sized, is carved 
from ivory, as are the arms and the sandaled foot that extends 
beyond the folds of his golden robes. The noble brow is 
encircled by a wreath of gold and the gilded sandals were 
pounded from the ornaments of worshippers. In one hand 
great Zeus holds out the globe of earth, surmounted by the 
figure of Athena; in the other are his thunderbolts, symbolic 
of his might. Though you may disbelieve, yet will you be 
silent; for in the presence of great beauty the soul is stilled. 
What, then, do men worship; what calls forth their adoration? 
Is it “the high thundering king” upon his golden throne, or 
is it that subtle beauty caught in the ringlets of his ivory hair 
or held as though petrified in each fold of his flowing robe? 
Where beauty is there is a spirit in the air, and it is this spirit 
that men worship, and none who worships this spirit can be 
wholly bad. As a thirsty traveler drinks from the flowing 
fountain in the oasis, so the thirsty soul drinks life from the 
beautiful and is renewed by the sheen of a gilded globe or the 
majesty of a carven face. Remember, it is neither the face nor 
the stone — it is the something that is caught upon the stone 
as a sound caught by the breeze, as a ray of light reflected 
upon the ripples of the sea, or a smile given and returned 
in anothers eyes. So “High Heaven” in its grandeur is more 
than an image of stone to a tired and troubled humanity 
which creeps away from its sorrow to gaze upon a noble 
brow, or contemplate the quality of a sculptor's skill. 

Thus from that which is seemingly not real there issues forth 
a beautiful reality, and God is never distant from that which 
is beautiful. Can we blame the ancient pagan if, feeling the 
force that emanates from a harmonious figure, he declared 
that a divinity had taken up its abode therein? Is that stone 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

dead which can make strong men weep and give cowards 
courage to go forth and die? Is that stone dead which can 
hold the hearts of an entire nation and unite all factions in its 
presence? Is that stone dead before which the sick are healed 
of their maladies and the sorrowful are given peace? Is that 
stone dead which can incline man’s mind from the contem- 
plation of earthly interests to the concerns of the spirit? Is 
that stone dead which can inspire man to cast off his natal 
ignorance and aspire to the beauty which he senses in a carven 
face? Nothing that is beautiful is dead; for beauty is life, 
and wherever beauty exists life is more abundant, and when 
it departs life flickers out like an expiring candle flame. 

Is all this idolatry; in fact, is there such a thing as idolatry? 
Is not even the fetish a symbol of some standard, some beauty 
which ennobles life? From the primitive beauty of physical 
courage men grow to the fuller beauty of integrity, and from 
integrity still higher to pure aesthetics. We arc all idolaters, 
not because we worship the lesser in lieu of the greater but 
because we do not learn to understand what we worship and 
why we worship. Analyzing some microscopic creature the 
scientist is not seeking simply to learn the habits of an order 
of minutiae; he is seeking knowledge, and the tiny organism 
is but the instrument by which he gratifies the desire to know. 
Kneeling before his household shrine the Buddhist does not 
worship Buddha. The figure before him is but the instrument 
by which he seeks to know; it is a tangible nature about which, 
like some auric sheath, is a peculiar atmosphere of beauty. 
Because of their severity the cold, gray churches of the modern 
world have failed to catch and hold the spirit of the beautiful. 
The God of our salvation will not be captured in hard-lined 
lectern or graceless pulpit. The chill of death is in the air; 
not the death of the body but the death of the spirit. It may 
seem sacrilegious to affirm that there should be warmth in the 
house of God; that men coming to worship should find an 
edifice as ennobling as the text. 

The old cathedrals of Europe hide under their Gothic spans 
labyrinths of gloomy chambers where in richly-carved sar- 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


cophagi lie the princes of church and state sleeping the centuries 
away. Here also are dismal dungeons where those who 
offended the laws of their gloomy God awaited death, their 
only liberator. Above the heads of the illustrious dead still 
file the solemn processionals of the faith. Still with awful 
solemnity the celebrant elevates the host, and the sun’s rays 
striking some lightly tinted pane are reflected from the golden 
implements of the service. Again solemnity, again majesty, 
again faith muttering over mystic spells! 

But instead of man being lifted up into the beauty of 
God by all this pomp and spectacle, he is caused to cringe with 
bowed head. Oppressed by the memory of sin, the laity feel 
rather than see the processional pass by. We say “feel”, for 
they dare not look, the weight of their faith is so heavy upon 
them. The splendor of God does not raise the worshipper 
to union with itself, but rather casts him down with the sense 
of his own insignificance. Whereas the gods of old in gentle 
tones bade all men come forward and receive their portion of 
Universal Good, the gods of today, pointing an accusing finger 
at each cringing sinner, ominously proclaim that if the quality 
of divine mercy were strained, long ere this the human race 
would have felt the fires of Tophet. 

Nothing is more meaningless than empty ceremonial. The 
service of forms and letters must pass away, for in themselves 
they are as ineffectual as the ivory face of Zeus. In the Chris- 
tian Mysteries it was declared that a spiritual being called the 
“Angel of the Presence” was invoked by the solemnizing of 
the mass. Brooding over the congregation, this spirit brought 
with it the benediction of the Father so that the worshippers 
should not worship in vain. Is not this Angel the same mys- 
terious power which moved in the adytum of pagan temples; 
whose proximity was perceptible even to the profane, and 
whose comings and goings were heralded by tinkling bells? 
This was the god whose presence was a covenant and whose 
departure presaged decay. The Angel of the Presence itself 
is fabricated from the very essences of worship; it is the 
atmosphere of sanctity which encloses the holy place as within 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

an iridescent bubble. The contents of this bubble are actually 
breathed in by the assembled multitude whose bodies become 
charged with a certain ecstasy which defies analysis. 

The purpose of ritualism is to create this intangible at- 
mosphere; to incline men’s lives to the quest of that inner 
peace and tranquillity which is temporarily conferred by the 
celestial visitant. Ritualism fails utterly if it does not induce 
rhythm in spectator and participant alike. The gods did not 
rejoice in rituals, but men in whom the higher emotions are 
latent find in pageantry an opportunity to express the beautiful 
and thus mingle their lesser lives with the ebb and flow of 
universal order. Ritualism has no direct appeal to the rational 
faculties; ip fact, the whole subject of religion lies wholly 
within the province of the emotions. So while in the day of 
great intellectual achievement religion wanes, in the presence 
of calamity it waxes strong. Previous to the great earthquake 
of 1923 the Buddhist faith was not taken seriously by the body 
of the Japanese people. Even the national shrines wore a 
dilapidated air, for the empire of the Rising Sun was fast 
falling under the spell of finance. Then concomitant with 
disaster came religion. The mourning multitudes again brought 
offerings to the temples and decked the shrines with flowers. 
In prosperity man is sufficient for himself, but in adversity he 
turns to his Creator for strength. Religion is an instinct so 
deeply implanted within the human soul that it often remains 
unmanifested until misfortune sweeps away the superficial and 
bares the inner self. 

Thus to the scientist, the intellectualist, and the sophisticate 
rituals are simply humbug with which a well-fed clergy insure 
their own expectation of life by themselves eating the offerings, 
and toasting their benefactors with the sacramental wine. But 
in the ordeals of the soul of what comfort are stocks and bonds; 
what consolation can be extracted from the test tube; what 
condolence can be found in the postmortems of the literati? 
Trying to make friends out of the printed page and engaging 
in vicarious romances with their own notions, men of letters 
live lonely lives. In the great laboratory there is no sound 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


other than the beating of the scholars heart. Yet there is a 
rhythm in the air, a slow, measured tempo which inclines the 
whole deportment to gravity of thought and conduct. As this 
rhythm infects the nature a great cry issues from the depths 
of the tormented soul: “There is so much to know and I have 
such a little while to stay.” Overshadowed by towering racks 
of books — the thoughts of lives unnumbered — the reason is 
confounded. Thus deprived of faith in the possibility of 
knowledge, the life that serves the mind recoils in despair before 
the impossible. 

The evangelists of the beautiful summon men to come out 
of their world of selfishness and thought, and to realize that 
men can die of excessive mentality, and that thoughts them- 
selves can become the harbingers of great sorrow. “Leave the 
rhythm of vast enterprise,” they cry; “leave behind both your 
interests and your indifferences and enter into the presence of 
great beauty.” Much thinking is a disease, and idle speculation 
leads to nothing. Only he who loves the beautiful is wise; 
only he who serves the beautiful is good; only he who shares 
the beautiful is happy. Beauty is in the heavens and its power 
extends throughout all worlds. Beauty is upon the earth, 
molding all forms into the likeness of God. Beauty is in the 
human soul, lifting man upward to ever nobler vistas of en- 
deavor. Beauty is that abiding spirit which, hovering over 
creation, tinctures all being with its ineffable nature. Open 
your minds, therefore, that beauty may flow into them; open 
your hearts that beauty may flow out of them. 

In one of the uncanonical Gospels it is written that after 
Jesus and his Apostles had celebrated the Passover together 
they sang and danced, the Master himself dancing with them 
on the eve of his betrayal. Pan was regarded by the Greeks 
as the patron of harmony and rhythm, and his pipes were 
attuned to the harmony of the spheres. In a choral ode 
Sophocles addresses Pan as the author and director of the 
dances of the gods, and also as the author and disposer of 
the regular motions of the universe, of which these divine 
dances were symbols. Pan was the aspect of Zeus as lord of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the mundane sphere, and according to Athenaeus grave Zeus 
himself bestowed his favor upon the terpsichorean art. Thus 
the Gnosian dances sacred to the Demiurgus, and also the 
Nyssian regarded as peculiar to Bacchus, revealed by their 
movements the various modes of the all-ruling Principle. One 
of the Pythagoreans composed a complicated measure by which 
he was able to interpret, with the aid of gestures, the whole 
body of Pythagorean lore and thus convey much of its esoteric 
meaning to the uninitiated. Aristotle classes dancing with the 
imitative arts, and Lucian calls it “a science of imitation and 
exhibition which explained the conceptions of the mind, and 
certified to the organs of sense things naturally beyond their 
reach.” Richard Payne Knight declares dancing to have been 
part of the ceremony of all mystic rites and that persons of 
exemplary gravity condescended to cultivate it as a useful and 
respectable accomplishment. He further notes that dancing, 
being entirely imitative, was esteemed as honorable as the 
subject it was intended to express. 

In his Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins advances the theory 
that the three great elements of primitive ritualism— music, 
poetry, and the dance — existed before the discovery of writing 
and were employed in the perpetuation of religious knowledge 
and historical records. Mr. Higgins deplores the invention 
of writing, declaring that the decline of pagan virtue was 
largely due to the wane of the interpretive arts, which were 
considered unnecessary when more exact methods of perpetu- 
ating knowledge were originated. The exploits of all ancient 
peoples were perpetuated by epic poems. In every community 
dwelt bards who had committed these lengthy narratives to 
memory and recited them at feasts and celebrations. 

Poetry is the rhythm of words, music the harmony of 
sounds, and the dance the harmony and rhythm of motion. 
These higher octaves of ordinary endeavor were reserved for 
the worship of the gods and to immortalize the deeds of 
heroes. After the invention of writing, the most important 
records were either carved into the surface of stone or engraved 
upon golden plates. Thus deprived of their primal dignity, 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


the interpretive arts became elements of amusement rather 
than instruction. Men loved the evident then as now, and it 
was easier to trace a motive in the written word than in some 
sad harmony or subtle gesture. The ancient poets lamented the 
decay of their resplendent ceremonials. Ceasing to portray the 
beautiful in processional and pageantry, the Saturnalia and 
Bacchanalia degenerated into licentious orgies wherein all that 
was base and depraved became the theme of interpretive ex- 
pression. In this state of perversion the fine arts preserved with 
pomp and show the outward form from which the inner spirit 
had fled. 

Music and the dance were extensively employed in the 
initiatory rites of the ancient Mysteries. Some of the inner 
secrets were also perpetuated in archaic meter. Entering upon 
the path leading to self-liberation, the neophyte found the way 
beset with rhythms of diverse kinds. Temptation rendered 
exquisite by a seductive tempo lured him from his austerities. 
The figures swaying about him in the gloom interpreted the 
candidate’s every thought and feeling. Through the darkness 
of subterranean crypts resounded the mournful cadences of an 
infernal music. The rocks re-echoed the doleful sound until 
it seemed that all creation wept together. The miseries of 
unrighteous living, the inevitable anguish of uncurbed desire, 
the hopelessness of irrationality — all these and many other 
grave realizations were impressed upon the consciousness of the 
wandering neophyte. When from the dark chamber of earthly 
horror he passed into the abode of fire, the candidate beheld 
upon the altar before him a lurid and flickering flame whose 
eerie light cast vague specters upon the cavern walls. These 
specters seemed to dance to some fantastic measure ordered by 
the erratic fire. 

Then the music changed. The low monotony gave place to 
a slight, almost discordant consonance. The tones vibrated with 
a wild abandon, and invisible fingers strove to tear the human 
nature from the firm grasp of its will. Dim forms in crimson 
draperies blended their motions with the gyrations of the altar 
fire. Bearing in their hands golden platters of grapes and with 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

vine leaves twisted in their hair, these hour is of a rhythmic 
dream besought the candidate to partake of their illusions. 
Half-frenzied with the exotic harmonies, and holding his hands 
before his face, the searcher after the greater realities of life 
staggered from the chamber of desire, seeking escape from the 
haunting rhythms that sought to hold him to the sphere of 
sense. Again there was silence and darkness, but even the 
silence seemed to throb, and with brain still whirling the 
neophyte pressed on to find himself in another chamber lit 
with a strange twilight, which apparently coming from no- 
where was diffused throughout the whole apartment. About 
the walls upon stone seats sat a row of grave and pensive 
figures like senators pondering the problems of the state. 
The music began again — this time soft and plaintive like a cry 
from the very depths of the soul. The faces of the silent 
assemblage were fixed in a melancholy stare as though each 
man gazed into eternity but saw nothing. The invisible musi- 
cians continued their faint and tragic theme which seemed to 
whisper that all was vanity, that life was a hopeless span, and 
that all these assembled thinkers thought in vain. The air 
was sodden with despair; disillusionment filled the cavern like 
some noxious fume, and in spite of himself the candidate bent 
his head before its insidious power. Slowly the circle of seated 
figures began to sway. Without rising they inclined their 
bodies and heads in unison. The silent but concerted motion 
breathed a hopeless negation which seemed to say: “There is 
no use; life is a span of useless suffering, with birth and death 
the inescapable tragedies of entrance and exit.” If only one of 
these swaying figures would speak! Even though his words 
were prophetic of naught but ill, it would at least break the 
terrible tension. But no word was spoken. The disciple felt 
his courage slowly oozing from him as the chill of despair 
entered his soul. 

Barely able to stand, tormented by the wailing cadence, and 
half hypnotized by the measured swaying of the old men’s 
heads, the neophyte staggered from the hall of learning back 
into the dark passageways of the labyrinth. Sobbing and 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


unable to stand, he crawled along the stones, seeking some 
escape from that cold hopelessness which made all life appear 
useless and all effort vain. Once out of hearing of the music 
his courage returned, and recovering his former poise he con- 
tinued his quest for light. At last he reached the bottom of 
a flight of steps, and ascending them in the gloom came to 
two large doors with golden knobs, whereupon a voice bade 
him open them and enter. As the candidate swung the massive 
portals wide he was almost blinded by the shaft of light that 
struck his eyes so long accustomed to somber shadows and 
gloom. At length his vision cleared and he found himself in 
a high domed chamber brilliantly illumined by a massive 
globe of golden light placed in the center of the vaulted ceiling. 
The dome was supported by twelve pillars of varicolored mar- 
ble, and the floor was a checkerboard design with alternate 
blocks of gold and ivory. In the center of this chamber upon 
a marble base stood the great veiled figure of the Mother of 
Mysteries, the “Keeper of the Royal Secret.” In a circle about 
the statue knelt four and twenty priests in flowing robes of 
white, whose inspired faces were turned upward in contem- 
plation and adoration of the Great Mystery. Again the or- 
chestral music began, but this time it was serene, triumphant, 
victorious. The anthem of praise echoed and re-echoed 
throughout the vaulted dome, and the four and twenty priests 
as with but a single voice sang praises to the Seven-Lettered 
One by whose graciousness the way of light had been estab- 
lished upon the earth. As the victorious mode thundered 
through the chamber it caused the very walls to quiver. Over- 
whelmed by the solemnity of the spectacle, the neophyte fell to 
his knees in adoration of the power that, descending from 
heaven, had taken up its dwelling in the temple. Then from 
among the kneeling figures came forth one more glorious 
than all the rest, upon whose brow was a golden wreath and 
in whose hand was a great staff with hieroglyphic figures 
deeply carved into its surface. Gazing into the face of the 
hierophant, the neophyte could not but ask the question: “Is 
this great Zeus himself?” 

374 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Taking the new initiate by the hand the high priest opened 
a small door in the pedestal of Ceres’ statue, and beckoning 
the youth to follow him, disappeared into the darkness. The 
secrets revealed in this inner room it is not lawful to disclose, 
for they are concerned with the spirit and the end of that long 
quest which is man’s pilgrimage of life. Here the inner 
meanings of the rituals were revealed; here the purpose of 
symbol and allegory was made known; here the initiate learned 
why the great truths of life cannot be imparted by word alone, 
but must flow through the whole nature, to be sensed as a 
rhythm in the air, a gesture in the darkness, a power unseen. 
Here the robes of the Mysteries were conferred. Invested in 
the outer symbols of an inner power, the new initiate re- 
entered the great chamber to discover the priests, as though 
swayed by some mysterious power, encircling the statue with 
a motion expressive of grace and rhythm. The harmonies 
pervading the air could not be resisted, and the new initiate 
found himself a participant in the circumambulations of the 
sacred rite. He was moving to an exalted tempo and knew 
that the rhythm which flowed through his body was the same 
that moves the planets in their orbits and maintains all creation 
in its appointed place. 

The rituals of the Mysteries were first fabricated by the 
priests in an effort to establish ceremonials which would reveal 
to the inner perceptions the principle of universal order. 
These ceremonials, however, gradually assumed an aspect so 
vast that they became the very backbone of the state. The 
Mysteries made the gods seem very near to man. Prince and 
commoner alike feared the retribution of outraged deities and 
sought to propitiate by word and deed the celestial^ who were 
so proximate to them as to lend their presence to the mystic 
rites. It is difficult for us to conceive of a day when the gods 
walked with men, for in this generation the divinities have 
retired before the ridicule of a disbelieving world. But those 
who have lived in the Orient know what it means to be ever 
in the presence of the Shining Ones, for in India the immortals 
still wander the earth in disguise and every mendicant may 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


be Shiva incognito testing the generosity of the pious Brahman. 
It is sad indeed that human souls should be struck with terror 
by the proximity of the immortals; that instead of glorying in 
the nearness of his Creator man should be overcome with 
foreboding, linking heroes with ill tidings and gods with 
cataclysms. The guilt that sits heavy on conscience is usually 
responsible for such uneasiness. Men regard their fellows as 
fools, and as one mortal to another can satisfactorily explain 
away their vices. The gods, however, are indefinite quantities 
with most acute perceptions and accredited with the power of 
convicting man by his own words. When Nero brutally caused 
the murder of Agrippina, his own mother, lie faced the world 
unafraid and drowned his small .measure of remorse in his 
cups. But from that day on he dared not join the processionals 
of the Mysteries or take part in any solemn rite. He feared to 
approach the gods, for the blood he had shed cried out for 
vengeance. It is said that upon one occasion when entering 
the house of a great patrician, Nero beheld a statue of the 
goddess Ceres. As he looked, the goddess caused her carven 
face to take on the features of Agrippina. With a hoarse cry 
Caesar covered his face with a fold of his cape and was carried 
half senseless from the house. 

Pythagoras was accused by his enemies of being theatrical 
and purposely creating an atmosphere of mystery about his 
person. Even after the lapse of nearly twenty-five centuries the 
great sage is still regarded as an impostor simply because he 
employed dramatic situations for purposes of instruction. Not 
long ago when discussing with a rather eminent scholar the 
strange personality of the Samian martyr, the learned doctor 
exclaimed: “But why did Pythagoras insist upon speaking 
behind a curtain so that only his feet were visible, when any- 
one knows that such a procedure is utterly ridiculous? Did 
he for an instant believe that a few yards of blue silk improved 
the quality of his thoughts or rendered his erudition more 
comprehensible to his auditors? All these things were simply 
a vain show and are enough to convince any educated person 
that Pythagoras was in reality a philosophic mountebank who 
dressed up a little knowledge in gilt and tinsel so that it ap- 

376 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

peared stupendous to a group of gullible followers already 
convinced that their master was a god. When men really have 
something to say and are conversant with their subject, they 
simply and definitely set forth their premises and require no 
such stage props. The man undoubtedly knew something of 
mathematics and a little of music. He also had an acquaint- 
ance with several other arts, but in all things he was simply 
a superficial observer dependent for his influence and power 
upon the magnetism of his own personality and carefully staged 

We early discovered that the so-called learned of today are 
incapable of appreciating ancient standards of culture; that 
they are far too brusque to sense or respond to the subtleties 
employed by the greater exponents of Greek metaphysics. 
The veil of Pythagoras is a constant reminder of the fact that 
if the senses are united in the contemplation of externals, the 
nature is not free for the rational digestion of internals. He 
who saw Pythagoras could never know Pythagoras, for he was 
not to be recognized by the outer senses but rather to be realized 
by the inner perceptions. If those listening to his words had 
seen the master, they would have believed the words to have 
been his own and to have issued from mortal mouth. But 
unable to watch the movements of the man's lips, the words 
seemingly issued from behind a mystery and could thus be 
totally dissociated from the personality of the speaker. The 
human mind skips lightly over what it does not see, and al- 
though all who gathered there realized that Pythagoras was 
speaking the words, the fact that they could not actually see 
him do this caused them to regard the words almost as un- 
spoken. The veil itself was the symbol of Pythagoras the 
man, for the human nature is but a drape concealing an inner 
and most transcendent part. 

When men desire to isolate themselves from all external 
stimuli, they have but to still by the power of the will the 
action of the outer senses. Close your eyes, and the world of 
forms disappears; close your ears, and the world of sounds 
ceases to be. Veil an object and the object itself is no longer 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


there, for the mind then creates and endows as fancy dictates 
that which the sense perceptions have not dimensionalized. 
Pythagoras desired his disciples to realize that the words issued 
not from him but from the Great Mystery which he had 
penetrated in part. He was but as an oracular vase, a sounding 
urn, or a tinkling cymbal; his mouth but a vent in which a 
spirit dwelt. It was this inner and invisible agent that spoke. 
Hence the words that issued therefrom should be regarded 
as having their origin not in the man but in the rational soul 
that is above the limitations of the flesh and superior to the 
dimensionalizing influence of the external senses. Freed from 
the hypnosis of a personal idolatry, the disciples might thus 
receive instruction without learning to love the teacher; might 
understand without seeking to estimate personality; might 
come to know the truth and not simply the measure of a man. 

Why, then, did he permit them to see his feet below the 
veil? The symbolism is again evident. Man's whole nature 
is a mystery of which only the feet are visible, for the physical 
body which we perceive and regard as the whole of man is 
really but the pedal extremities of the soul. He who sees but 
the visible man sees only the feet of a vast superphysical agent 
whose head is of spiritual gold but whose base is of clay. The 
feet extending beyond the veil reminded the disciple of Nature 
—the visible part of God— whereas the rational and illumined 
parts that dwells behind the veil separating the visible from the 
invisible may be known only through the products of the reason. 
He who saw the feet of the master had seen Pythagoras, for 
Pythagoras himself was but the physical extremity of a re- 
splendent invisible nature. According to an ancient adage, men 
are called by the names given to their feet. The visible phys- 
ical man to which we assign various nomenclatures is but an 
insignificant appendage of a nameless reality which, dwelling 
behind a veil, may never be known until we have learned to 
esteem the invisible above the visible and consciousness above 

After successfully passing the tests of the lesser rites, the 
Pythagorean neophyte was permitted to step behind the veil 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

and behold the face of the master, for it was presumed that 
having completed his preparatory instruction the advanced dis- 
ciple could look upon the inferior nature without mistaking 
it for the rational power dwelling within and behind it. 
Pythagoras was not only philosophic; he was also scientific 
in his use of symbols and rituals. He attained ends which 
modern education utterly fails to attain, because he employed 
not dramatic but divine procedures in the accomplishment of 
spiritual education. 

Today the value of an idea is determined by the relative 
culture and prestige of its author. In antiquity, however, the 
culture and prestige of a thinker was measured solely by the 
quality of his ideas. In other words, a man’s thoughts were 
not considered good because he was great; he was considered 
great because his thoughts were good. The highest authority 
of the modern world is the modern world itself, and by that 
criterion the modern world justifies its works. The highest 
authority of the ancient world was Truth, and antiquity jus- 
tified its survival by expending its energy in the quest for 
Truth. No man can learn the truth unless he has the correct 
rationale of approach. In great measure this attitude is the 
outgrowth of atmosphere, and atmosphere can sometimes be 
created by a dramatic flourish. Yet is there not a science of 
atmospheres? Do we not declare that the color of wallpaper 
affect our moods? Do we not instinctively feel more optimistic 
when the sun shines than when it rains? Are we not at one 
time elated and at another time cast down by environmental 
trivialities? Does not our entire mental constitution reflect 
the state of our disposition, and are we not more susceptible 
to instruction when in one state than in another? Is it not 
therefore legitimate to increase our efficiency by creating those 
mental atmospheres which most effectively stimulate and 
directionalize our rationality? From this point of view a veil 
of^blue silk — though to the superficial an absurdity — might 
become, when employed by one versed in the profounder aspects 
of the mind, a definite aid to the student’s understanding, and 
consequently serve a justifiable end. 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


What has been said of the blue veil applies equally to all 
forms of ritualism. When rituals are designed and executed 
by the uninformed they are meaningless and grotesque. When 
created according to definite philosophic principles and per- 
formed with a knowledge of the transcendental arts, these very 
rites become alive and have resident within their own natures 
a virtue capable of being transmitted to an assemblage. We 
have lost the art of ritualism — the science of divine dramatics 
— yet in the dissemination of philosophic verities it is often 
necessary to resort to figures and symbols to convey those subtle 
facts incommunicable by any literal method. The only reason 
men demand that the statement be direct and simple is that 
they ignore those elements of life which cannot be stated 
directly. The Great Arcanum perpetuated through the ages 
by diverse means depended upon ceremonial and processional 
for the exposition of certain principles, particularly those con- 
cerned with aesthetics. The crassness of our present attitude 
is largely responsible for the disregard for ritualism that exists 
in our national life. We do not necessarily refer to the somber 
rituals of the church, which are all too often depressing and 
inhibiting, but rather to those racial ceremonies and proces- 
sionals with which ancient nations were wont to express the 
composite ideals of an entire nation through exhibitions of 
grace, rhythm, and beauty. 

Niebuhr observes that the ancients never founded their trag- 
edies on real, but on mythical history only. What were the 
myths? Simply the outer veils of the Mysteries — that part 
which, though revealed, remained comparatively meaningless 
until the allegories were unlocked by the philosophic keys. 
It remained for Christendom to inextricably confuse the issues 
of mythology and history, causing the former to take on the 
substance of the latter and thereby lose all semblance to its 
own true nature. The early Church recognized, however, the 
peculiar efficacy of the pagan ceremonials as evidenced by the 
introduction of the Mystery Plays; for on the steps of the 
cathedrals even during the Middle Ages it was customary to 
enact episodes from the lives of Jesus and the twelve Apostles. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

These pageantries ostensibly were to assist the ignorant in un- 
derstanding the profundities of the faith. In reality, however, 
they were perpetuations of the ancient Gnostic practices which 
the Church fathers outwardly opposed but inwardly accepted. 

At this point a subject germane for discussion is the de- 
struction of the pagan Mysteries, or the “death of Great Pan” 
as it was enigmatically called. The Church affirms that the 
Gentiles in their frantic eagerness to embrace the new Chris- 
tian faith deserted, to a man, their heathen altars. Those 
familiar, however, with the lengthy pleadings and arguments 
employed by the early Church fathers to convert unbelievers 
will realize that the accounts of the pagan stampede toward 
Christianity are more of a rhetorical display than a true state- 
ment of the actual facts. As more than one author has ob- 
served, the pagan Mysteries actually fell from the combined 
effect of treachery and profanation. Great Pan, like Caesar, 
drew his cloak about his face and fell from the thrust of his 
dearest friend. “Yet Brutus was an honorable man!” He did 
not slay for personal gain or because he loved Caesar less, but 
because he loved Rome more. So with the Mysteries. The 
rending of the Temple veil symbolized the abolition of the 
Mysteries and the birth of that new dispensation which sought 
to liberate mankind from bondage to a despotic priescraft by 
making the way of salvation equally accessible to all men, 
irrespective of their intellectual, spiritual, or ethical status. 
Carried away by the blandishments of worthy ideals such as 
these, Christian zealot persuaded pagan proselyte to commit 
that most impious crime imaginable— namely, to divulge the 
secrets of the Mysteries. On the assumption that the end 
justifies the means, many initiates broke their holy obligations 
and thus wrought the destruction of those sacred institutions 
which for uncounted centuries had been the custodians of the 
secret doctrine. It was but a few hundred years, however, 
before the Church awoke from its disillusionment. Recogniz- 
ing that spiritual equality was but a figure of speech, it straight- 
way reversed its position and proceeded to retrench itself 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


behind the very mysteries and rituals of the pagan institutions 
it had overthrown. 

Thus pagandom died to no good end, and the new faith 
rose upon broken vows and the sincere but misguided efforts 
of pagan initiates. Upon the desecration of their sanctuaries, 
the masters of the greater secrets retired therefrom and adopted 
secret means for the perpetuation of their knowledge. The 
oaths broken for the glory of God produced no tangible re- 
sults, for the power of the priescraft was not destroyed but 
merely shifted from one organization to another. Through 
their first spokesman the Christian Church admitted the pos- 
session of certain mysteries and spiritual secrets, and these are 
still preserved in its ritualism and ceremonials. But for lack 
of certain august mysteries which had not been entrusted to 
such initiates as might break their vows, the whole body of 
the inner work is not now and never was in the possession of 
the Christian Church. For lack of these elements of knowl- 
edge, mystagogues could not interpret the symbols which 
were accepted solely for their apparent virtues, and hence rituals 
“lost the name of action.” So from an outward figure and an 
unquickencd form the science of sacraments and ceremonials 
was established, the virtues of which Samuel Butler in his 
Hudibras thus describes: 

“With crosses, relics, crucifixes 
Beads, pictures, rosaries and pixes; 

The tools of working out salvation 
By mere mechanic operation.” 

Upon vain ceremonial and empty rite the antiritualist vents 
his spleen. All too keenly he senses the superficiality, the 
tawdriness of outer show, but most of all the absence of the 
inner spirit. But in common with all extremists, because he 
docs not like a part he would sweep away the whole with 
imperious gesture. Because he is dissatisfied with the rituals 
with which he is familiar, he declares the whole science of 
dramatic instruction to be composed of stuff and nonsense. 
Estimating things as they should be by the rule of things as 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

they are, the modernist rejects all in the efforts to escape an 
objectionable fraction. In the ancient Mysteries it was declared 
that broken oaths induced their own punishment. Religion in 
the hands of the rabble bears terrible evidence to vows and 
obligations turned recreant. In time, however, these things will 
pass away and the beauty now deeply hidden within each 
deed and thought will again come into its own; for error is 
mortal, but Truth is immortal, and though crushed to earth 
shall rise again. For thousands of years the ancients perpetu- 
ated by dramatic instruction those secrets of the inner life 
which formed the substance of every mythos. The New Testa- 
ment of the Christian Church is itself a book of rituals, for 
it is filled with allegories and parables which inspire by virtue 
of their dramatic power. Although drama was employed by 
the priests, it is not essentially a priestly art; for it is an instinct 
present among even the most primitive types, and serves the 
innate desire of every creature for self-expression. Though in 
a certain sense a reproductive or imitative art, it is more than 
this; for it provides an adequate channel of expression for the 
surging impulses of the soul. 

We must therefore fight to preserve those arts by which 
the nobler moods of man can be interpreted. Without such 
means of self-expression the individual is a locked soul whose 
inhibitions must ultimately canker the whole nature. We might 
very properly ask ourselves, however, if we can preserve the 
beauty in ritual and allegory when we have rejected both the 
religious and ethical systems of which ritualism was the natural 
expression. Is it possible to live crass and material lives, wor- 
shiping our own industrialism while still maintaining the in- 
tegrity of mystic rites and pageantries? The answer is obvious- 
ly in the negative, for we cannot serve the God of beauty and 
the spirit of selfishness at the same time. Man must choose 
the gods he will serve and abide by his decision. The sorrows 
of this century arc abundant proof of the folly of his choice. 
Yet ridiculous as it may seem, the day is not far distant 
when the world, tired of its modern gods, will revert to the 
pantheons of earlier days. Already a suffering humanity is 

Ancient Mystery Rituals 


turning from a god of gloom to seek the god of joy. Caged 
within the ever-narrowing confines of its commercial endeavor, 
humankind is seeking to escape and raise again its altars 
among the hills. The gods of the terminals have grown in- 
tolerable; the human soul desires again to fraternize with the 
rustic spirits and know the carefree life of the faun and satyr. 

Great Pan is not wholly dead. Some day he will burst the 
bonds that chain him in the dark abyss, and returning to his 
rushes by the stream, will again play glad tunes upon the 
pastoral pipes. Pan is the patron of the rites and rituals, lord 
keeper of the dance, and peculiar spirit of the depictive arts. 
One hundred years ago it was predicted that within a few cen- 
turies men would revert to the gods of Plato and Aristotle, 
and tired of a distant Spirit would rejoice in the proximity of 
kindlier gods and daemons. We may all look forward with 
eager anticipation to that nobler day when the gods of 
philosophy once more shall rule the world; when all will be 
right in the heavens above and upon the earth beneath. We 
are weary of our somber codes and dismal doctrines — creeds 
that hurl men at each other’s throats in the frenzy of selfishness 
and passion. We desire to again make the acquaintance of 
those laughing spirits that speak from the waterfall and inspire 
all men to a rational camaraderie. The scientist may scoff, 
the modernist deride, and the theologian shriek “Blasphemy!'’ 
from the pulpit. All these things are merely incidental for it 
is the soul of man that endures and it is the soul of man that 
must be satisfied. Mortal institutes rise and fall, but the urge 
of self-expression never dies because that urge issues from 
Divinity itself. Men can be ensnared for a little while and their 
purposes temporarily turned aside. Ultimately, however, they 
will be themselves, and this being like self involves the ex- 
pression of the inner motives through the medium of the arts. 
A new age of beauty is dawning, and a race long servant to 
its greeds and baser desires is turning toward the contempla- 
tion of a nobler purpose and a more exalted destiny. 


In this diagram the divine nature o £ man is represented by an inverted 
with its lower point resting in the heart. The spheres of power upon the upP\ 
points of the triangle are the Anthropos, or Oversoul. From the spirit in the l* 
come forth two poles, one ascending to become the mind and the other descending 
become the generative system. 


A Philosophic Consideration of Man 

/CONSIDERED philosophically, man is the microcosm, or 
^ little universe— -the miniature creation in whose composite 
nature are epitomized the various orders of life: divine, super 
mundane, and terrestrial. “Like a fetus,” writes H. P. Blavatsky, 
"he is suspended by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the 
macrocosmos.'' Humanity, then, is still in an embryonic state 
and, dwelling within the darkness of the sidereal womb, is 
suspended from Cause by a threefold umbilical cord— the 
cable tow of the Freemason and the braided cord of the 
Brahman initiate. Of the threefold spirit, Paracelsus writes that 
the first has its seat in the elements, the second in the spirits 
of the stars, and the third in the divine nature itself. Cen- 
turies before, Proclus had defined the triune nature of man 
as three monads which are one monad— being suspended from 
unimaginable unity. The first monad is the eternal God; 
the second, eternity in its own nature; and the third, the para- 
digm, or pattern, of the universe. 

A similar doctrine was promulgated by the ancient Cabalists, 
whose profound investigation of transubstantial natures re- 
vealed that man’s superior nature verges toward God, his 
inferior part toward the earth, and his intermediate part toward 
the spheres whose radiant energies flow through that intan- 
gible atmosphere called the astral light, or anima mundi. It 
should be borne in mind that even body is primarily a spirit, 
form being merely the objectification of the formless monadic 
physical principle. Soul is likewise an astral spirit. Hippolytus 
declared that the Assyrians considered the soul to be a triple 
unity, "soul” signifying the causal nature — the threefold monad 
of Proclus. 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

At this point wc may with profit consider a few lines from 
the famous Chaldean Oracles: “The Mind of the Father uttered 
that all should be divided into three. His will nodded assent, 
and at once all things were so divided.” In respqnse to the 
decree of the Forth-thinker, “He who governs all things with 
the Mind of the Eternal,” the root division was thus ordered. 
“In every cosmos there shineth a Triad, of which a Monad 
is the source.” And further, “From this Triad the Father mixed 
every spirit, arming both mind and soul with triple Might.” 
Issuing from the Paternal Foundation and established in the 
generations, man thus possesses three moving spirits which 
collectively are one spirit — the prime mover, the unmoved yet 
all-moving agent. It is natural, therefore, that each part of 
man should incline toward its own essential nature, being 
drawn thereto by a subtle gravity. That spirit which is from 
God, since it is the most subtle, consequently escapes back 
into God, “the Thrice-Beyond that spirit which is of the soul 
inclines toward the celestial spheres, since it finds its affinity 
in the stars of whose substances it is composed; while that 
spirit which is of the body is drawn downward to mingle its 
agencies with the dark earth, its common parent. Thus, while 
these three agencies are combined in the making of man, they 
still preserve certain individual characteristics, and pursuant to 
the line of expression indigenous to each seek to move the 
soul nature in one direction or another. The salt of the al- 
chemists is but the terrestrial nature, the sulphur the celestial, 
and the mercury the sidereal. From the blending of these 
three spirits the Hermetists brought into existence the philos- 
ophers’ stone. 

In our analysis of man we first regard him as a threefold 
being epitomizing in a single nature the whole order of uni- 
versals. The three powers, or monads, enthroned within his 
nature become vortices of force around which move respectively 
the substances of the supreme, the superior, and the inferior 
spheres. Objectifying environments from their own constitu- 
tion, these monads surround themselves with spheres of con- 
sciousness that have their analogy in the universal planes or 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 387 

worlds. Thus the supreme world outside of man exists within 
man as the environment of his divine spirit, the superior 
world in the environment of the soul spirit, and the inferior 
world in the environment of the body spirit. The three monads 
are also included within each other. The first includes the 
second and third; the second is included in the first but in- 
cludes the third; while the third, including within its nature 
neither of the others, is included within them both. Hence 
spirit includes both soul and body; soul includes body, but is 
included within spirit; and body, being the least of the parts, 

includes neither spirit nor soul but is included within both. 

The sphere of man’s divine spirit is consequently his heaven 
world, and his inferior nature exists within this heaven even 
as the earth floats within the constitution of the sidereal 
organism. The sphere of the soul is man’s human world, 
where suspended between the superior and the inferior the 
rational judgment may be inclined by the will to the contem- 
plation of either extreme. The sphere of the body is the in- 
ferior world which, analogous to the vast organism of the 
elements, seeks to swallow up consciousness and hold the in- 
nate life within the dark embrace of form. Thus the Uni- 
versal Man is mirrored in the individual man, in whose parts 

and members are revealed the laws and processes of cosmic 

The Mysteries instructed man in the nature of his own 
invisible constitution, revealing to him the structure of the 
microcosmos of which his spirit was the guiding part. They 
first informed the disciple that the physical organism, devoid 
of permanence and rationality, and far from being the master 
of the life, was simply a whimsical gesture, as it were, of the 
soul. To the initiated, the very death of the body was proof 
of the immortality of the soul, for it signified that separation 
in which a stronger nature deserted a weaker. The body and 
the soul were likened to two runners, the first being subject 
to fatigue, but the second tireless. For a while they keep 
abreast of each other. The body, however, having exhausted 
the vitality that had been loaned to it, soon lagged behind; 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

but the soul, being tireless because its vitality was inherent, 
rapidly outdistanced the body which was eventually forced to 
discontinue the unequal struggle because of exhaustion. Thus, 
while it is natural for forms to perish, it is also natural for the 
soul to continue in a vital state for a long period of time. By 
rational unfoldment it gradually inclines toward spirit, until 
it finally mingles its own essences with those of immortality. 

In Platonism we find the soul continually engendering 
forms, and after having accomplished the purposes for which 
the forms were designed casting them aside to redirectionalize 
its own energies. The Greeks held that both life and death 
were administered by the soul, declaring that so-called acts of 
Providence were but the will of the soul for the body which 
it had fashioned, and of whose destiny it was the arbiter. 

In his treatise On Suicide , Plotinus describes the difference 
between natural and violent death thus: “But it is requisite to 
remain in life, until the whole body is separated from the soul, 
and when it does not require migration, but is entirely external 
to the body. After what manner, therefore, is the body 
separated from the soul? When no longer anything per- 
taining to the soul is bound in the body? For when this takes 
place, the body can no longer bind the soul, the harmony of 
it no longer exists, which the soul possessing, it also possessed. 
What, then, shall we say, if some one should endeavor to separ- 
ate the body from the soul ? May we not say, that in this case 
he must employ violence, and that he departs, but the body 
does not depart from him? To which may be added, that 
he who effects this separation, is not liberated from passion, 
but is under the influence of some molestation, or pain, or 
anger. • • • If, also, a fated time is allotted to each indi- 
vidual of the human race, a separation of the body from the 
soul cannot be prosperous prior to this period, unless, as we 
have scud, this becomes necessary. M 

In the quotation it is arcanely hinted that under certain 
conditions the soul— which is, as it were, mixed throughout 
the substances of the body — is caused to pass out therefrom 
and hover about the body, proximate to it but not entangled 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


by the physical organism. When the concerns of the soul 
are liberated from the concerns of the body, the whole nature 
of the soul inclines away from form, gradually severing its 
connection therewith until at last having nothing in common 
with bodies it retires from them into itself. This is in truth 
the philosophic death in which there is not a violent but a 
gradual segregation of interests. Under normal conditions, 
the complete separation of the soul from the body is not 
achieved during a single lifetime, but the soul voluntarily with- 
draws itself from a decrepit or depleted body because that 
body is no longer an instrument of rational liberation. Thus 
in natural death the soul simply casts off a worn-out organism 
to continue its functions in some newer and more adequate 

Suicide was considered by the ancients to be a misdirection 
of power; for whereas natural death is a gesture of the body. 
In natural death the soul casts off the body, but in suicide the 
body casts off the soul. Hence such an end is termed violent, 
for the soul is forcibly ejected from its form without the libera- 
tion granted by rational procedure. 

In his Scholia on the Phaedo of Plato , Olympiodorus de- 
clares suicide to be permissible to the wise under five condi- 
tions, which specifies the circumstances under which pollution 
of the divine nature might not be countenanced by the indi- 
vidual. He epitomizes his argument in these words: “Suicide 
is unlawful, when committed for the sake of the body, but 
rational when committed for the sake of the soul.” Here we 
have to a certain degree the fundamental tenet of the samurai — 
death before dishonor. Suicide is therefore unjustifiable to 
escape misfortune and affliction or to evade responsibilities, but 
a legitimate end when it represents the sacrifice of life for the 
good of the nation or the service of the gods. Under justifiable 
suicide the ancients would have classed the deeds of heroes 
who faced death in the service of the state, as well as the 
heroism of illustrious men and women of modern times who 
have willingly given their lives for the cause of science. 

390 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Notables among such contemporaneous martyrs are those who 
have died from experimentation with the X ray and radium. 

The first philosophers declared the rational soul to be the 
spirit's most precious attribute; that it should be reverenced 
as a god and its dictates never consciously transgressed by will 
or deed. There is a god within the soul of man; a god which 
blesses by its approach and curses by its departure. This most 
exalted spirit quickens the life and renders real the whole 
purpose of existence. When man serves this inner power 
it is strengthened, and through the soul, its mediator, approaches 
the inferior man and lends its glory to terrestrial achievements. 
Conversely, if the life be ill, the spirit withdraws to the point 
of greatest isolation, whereupon the soul, overcome by the 
noxious fumes of materiality, is said to “die.” Thus a man 
may actually be dead in his inner nature while still alive in his 
outer. After the disintegration of his own soul he becomes a 
slave to the daemons or spirits residing in the astral light. 
These agitate his internal parts, causing them to assume the 
appearance of normal functioning. Such a person, however, 
is severed from all relations with his divine part. Sorcerers, 
vampires, and werewolves are thus declared to have lost their 
souls, being but outer shells from which the inner life has 
fled or — more correctly — decayed. 

Materiality hardens the nature and we frequently hear the 
expression that this or that person has no soul. This does 
not mean philosophically, that the soul is necessarily dead, but 
that the eyes of the soul have been blinded by the concerns 
of the body. It is not sufficient that man should live physically 
and exist in the divine sphere as a vortex of reality; it is also 
necessary that his soul, composed of the astral light, should be 
caused to verge toward reality and thus impregnate the entire 
organism with those virtues which are resident in the Seven 
Spheres, Here a most vital question is introduced, namely: 
Why should a man be virtuous? According to the materialist, 
a certain measure of personal integrity is necessary for the 
success of the physical community life of the race. From the 
theological outlook, a little virtue coupled with a plentitude of 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


belief is sufficient to preserve the immortal spirit from the 
pits of hell. Considered from the philosophical point of view, 
virtues, being resident in the soul, must serve as the bridge 
across which human consciousness passes to be united with its 
spiritual cause. 

When we elevate the concerns of the body above those of 
the inner nature we threaten the integrity of our soul-life and 
thereby endanger our rationality. The second death of theology 
is the death of the soul, at which time the individual’s astral- 
light body is disintegrated back into the anima mundi, which 
is the soul of God. These, then, are the major elements in the 
occult constitution of man: (1) The spirit , which is the eternal 
foundation and the abiding reality, by virtue of which man is 
immortal, superior to both beginnings and ends, and eternal 
in his own heavenly nature; (2) the soul, which is the inter- 
mediary by which the life in each is mingled with the starry 
life in all, and the qualities of the sidereal bodies are commu- 
nicated to each individual, who thus manifests through vices 
and virtues the states of excess and temperance existent in the 
sidereal nature; (3) the body which, being of the earth earthy, 
is the outer framework wherein the higher nature is imprisoned 
as within a cage during the period of its exile in the material 

As the constitution of man is suspended from spiritual 
wholeness by three monads called unities, so in the secret re- 
ligions of antiquity the orders of the priesthood were patterned 
from this holy mystery. The temple itself was the human 
body, and the priests who officiated at the various rites signified 
the spiritual agencies by which the mortal structure was sus- 
tained. In the sacerdotal orders of the pagan Roman Empire, 
for example, the abiding unity was represented by the Ponttfex 
Maximus, the chief of the Pontifical College and supreme 
monad of the order of spiritual dispensation. This august 
person was served by three flamincs, whose duties consisted of 
lending their sacred presence to the ceremonials of certain 
gods. Are not these flamines the breaths or flames that bear 
witness to the hidden and unknowable Light dwelling thrice- 

392 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

concealed in their midst? The f famines of the first rank were 
designated the Ffamen Dialis, the Ffamen Martialis, and the 
Flamen Quirinalis, and were chosen from the patrician class 
to signify that they were of the race of heroes. Later the 
number of ffamines was increased to fifteen and their order 
divided into the Ffamen Majorcs and the Flamen Minores, the 
first consisting of the holy three and the second of the lesser 
twelve. The twelve lesser ffamines are the monads or powers 
of the twelve Holy Animals which collectively form the phys- 
ical body of man and which are represented in the almanac 
by the signs of the zodiac distributed throughout the human 
body. The Ffamen Majores in Freemasonry are the three 
grand masters of the Lodge of Jerusalem who arc united 
together in the service of the Hidden King— the Pontifex 
Maximum Universalis. The Ffamines Minores have their anal- 
ogy in the twelve fellow-craftsmen who, venturing forth in 
parties of three, seek the body of their murdered master. Thus 
man, the microcosm , becomes the pattern after which all the 
procedures in the inferior universe are ordered and whose 
parts are combined in a profound and mystical arrangement. 

Among the gods of the Cabirian rite were several diminutive 
figures with curiously distorted bodies, and bearing the marks 
of advanced age. These monstrosities provoked the ridicule of 
Cambyses, who could not conceive them objects worthy of 
veneration. In the Mystery rituals reference is repeatedly made 
to a strange dwarf equal in size to the human thumb who, 
dwelling alone in the sanctum sanctorum, is never visible to 
man but hides himself amid the furnishings of the sanctuary. 
According to Paracelsus, the rational Knower dwells in the 
auric radiances of the heart, being a flamelike body equal in 
size to the last joint of a man’s thumb. In the Kathopanishads 
of the Brahmans, it is also written that there is a man, the size 
of the thumb, who dwells in the ether of the heart and who is 
called the “Mystery Flame.” From these sources is thus estab- 
lished the nature of the Cabirian dwarf whose physical propor- 
tions were inconsiderable but who was yet greater than all the 
universe; for when Krishna in the Vamuna avatar assumed a 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


diminutive stature he was yet able to cross the earth in three 
strides. The Mysteries held the rational part of man to be in- 
consequential from the standpoint of physical measure, but in 
its superphysical magnitude great enough to include all exist- 
ence within its scope. Thus was emphasized the spiritual 
reality that quality and not bulk is the true measure of size. 
The little man in the heart rules the great man in the world; 
for the body structure is like some huge machine whose com- 
plexity, while far eclipsing the insignificant proportions of its 
operator, is powerless without the conscious mind and guiding 
hand which controls all its parts and functions. 

Though the subject of reincarnation has been touched 
upon elsewhere in this work, it is nevertheless appropriate 
when considering the relationship of man as a spiritual entity 
to man as a physical personality, to discuss more at length the 
bonds which unite the superphysical consciousness to its phys- 
ical environment. The spiritual agencies conspiring to produce 
the creature which we designate man are thus described by 
Plato: “Indeed it is necessary to understand man, denominated 
according to species, as a being proceeding from the informa- 
tion of many senses, to a perception contracted into one reason- 
ing power.” G. R. S. Mead translates the latter part of Plato’s 
statement to read: “and collected into a unit by means of ra- 
tiocination.” From this definition we are to infer that the 
objective man is founded in the reaction of the senses and 
that, after emerging from sensations, man attains stability by 
organizing these sensations with the aid of his rational nature. 
If these sense stimulations are not analyzed with respect to 
cause and mutual relationship, it is impossible for unity to 
exist within the nature, and for lack of such unity man must 
continue to exist as a bundle of contradictions held together 
only by instinct It has already been stated that man does not 
actually enter into his immortality until he becomes conscious 
of that immortality. The instinctive man is consequently not 
immortal because in his consciousness there is still a vast pre- 
ponderance of mortal elements. The eternal ebb and flow of 
cosmic processes contribute instability to the whole tempera- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

mcnt and in response to this inconstant action the soul abides 
in a state of untranquillity. Spirit is the supreme power, and 
only when through initiation into the mysteries of the spiritual 
spheres he is moved to unite his soul and body with his 
spiritual part does man actually achieve immortality. Noble 
aspirations incline the soul toward the Great King, and only 
by absorbing his inferior constitution into the substances of 
this First of Immortals does man actually annihilate the inter- 
val between his temporal existence and his eternal endurance. 

The problem of metempyschosis was one that profoundly 
occupied the attention of Platonist, Neo-platonist, and Gnostic 
alike. The Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration as ex- 
pounded by Empedocles was admitted to contain an arcane 
rather than a literal meaning. While apparently accepting the 
doctrine of the literal transmigration of human souls into the 
bodies of animals. Plotinus undoubtedly possessed a knowledge 
of the esoteric interpretation of the doctrine, for nowhere else 
in his writings does he so freely employ irony and ridicule. 
Proclus, Chalcidius, and Hermes all maintained that it was 
unphilosophic to affirm that the human soul could ever return 
in the body of an animal, for the very will of the gods forever 
preserves so noble a creature as the soul from such a disgrace. 
Proclus enters the lists in Plato’s defense, setting for himself 
the task of interpreting Plato’s allusions to the return of man 
in a brutish constitution. Proclus reminds the reader that when 
in the Republic Plato declares that the soul of Thersites assumed 
the life of an ape, the word life (and not body) was very ex- 
plicitly used, thus signifying that the soul assumed the irra- 
tional appearance, though not necessarily taking on the physical 
form of an ape. Again, in the Phaedrus, Plato describes the 
descent of souls into a brutish life but nowhere does he state 
that they assumed brutish bodies, for in Platonic philosophy life 
is not synonymous with form. By all this commentary, 
Proclus attempts to show that Plato referred solely to the in- 
visible constitution, describing the various changes occurring 
therein when it is molded by the diversity erf human moods. 
Through living a bestial life man causes his inner nature to 

A Philosophic Consider ation of Man 


assume the appearance of a beast, and is known to the wise 
not according to the contour of his physical body but according 
to the visage of his soul. When so completely possessed by 
animalistic traits that the soul takes on the similitude of a 
beast, he is classified according to the species of his soul and 
hence may reasonably be termed an animal. 

Pythagoras delved even more deeply into the occult condi- 
tions resulting from a depraved life, circulating among a 
selected group of disciples a conclusion still more profound 
concerning the condition of the unrighteous dead. He declared 
that as like attracts like, and man by common impulse verges 
toward natures most closely resembling his own, it was natural 
for the virtuous to incline toward God and for the vice-ridden 
to incline toward the beast. Pythagoras did not intend to liken 
a bad man to a good animal, but rather employed the animal 
as a symbol of a nature in which rationality is dormant and 
the impulsive nature supreme. He stated that under certain 
circumstances a depraved human soul might attach itself to 
an animal even as a daemon might attach itself to a man. 
The human soul did not actually enter into the constitution 
of the animal but rather verged toward the instinctive nature 
of the animal in an effort to gratify its own uncurbed desires. 
Hence an animal may be moved or influenced by a human 
soul even as Socrates was influenced by his daemon. A certain 
animal exhibiting almost human intelligence may owe that 
quality to some human soul that has attached itself to the 
superphysical nature of that animal. 

In ancient theology Hermes was called the Psychopomp, 
“the lord of souls” and shepherd of men, of whom Proclus 
writes: “Hermes governs the different herds of souls, and dis- 
perses the sleep and oblivion with which they are oppressed. 
He is likewise the supplier of recollections, the end of which 
is a genuine intellectual apprehension erf divine natures. 
Hermes is, consequently, the divinity presiding over metemp- 
sychosis, administering the laws which cause men to return 
to mortal existence periodically until the generating soul has 
liberated itself from the idea of form. The “herds of souls 

396 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

are the life-waves gathered into groups by certain common 
motives which cause similar nature to incline toward each 
other. Moving in a circle as it were about the Central Life, 
these herds are represented in mythology by Ixion bound to 
the wheel of generation. As the dispenser of sleep and obliv- 
ion, Hermes controls the moods by which men are entangled 
and held to form, or rather released therefrom. It is Hermes 
also who governs the memories and closes the doors of the 
past for those as yet not rationally awakened, and therefore 
unft to contemplate the record of past actions. He is likewise 
denominated the supplier of recollections, and in this office 
is true to his great role of universal instructor. As the god of 
wisdom, Hermes instructs men by revealing to each individual 
the record of his own experiences. In the Egyptian myths 
Hermes is the scribe of the gods, and his writings are traced 
upon the tables of memory. With a gesture Hermes veils these 
records from the uninitiated, but reveals them to such as have 
awakened their inner consciousness. 

On the widespread acceptance of the doctrine of metemp- 
sychosis among the ancients, Godfrey Higgins in 1836 wrote: 
“It was held by the Pharisees or Persees, as they ought to be 
called, among the Jews; and among the Christians by Origen, 
Chalcidius (if he were a Christian), Synesius, and by the 
Simonians, Basilidians, Valentiniens, Marcionites, and the 
Gnostics in general. * * * Thus this doctrine was believed 
by nearly all the great and good of nearly every religion, 
and of every nation and age; and though the present race 
has not the smallest information more than its ancestors on 
this subject, yet the doctrine has not now a single votary in 
the Western part of the world.” 

The theory of reincarnation was frequently employed by 
ancient historians and philosophers in the interpretation of 
their fables. Plutarch declares the aceount of Bacchus being 
attacked and dismembered by the Titans to be a sacred nar- 
rative concerning reincarnation, while Sallust, in The Gods 
of the World , explains the rape of Persephone as an ancient 
allegory signifying the descent of the soul into birth. Several 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


Greeks declared themselves to be aware of the previous bodies 
which their generating soul had precipitated into material 
existence. Pythagoras discourses at some length on his previous 
lives, and the description of five of these will be found in my 
large book on symbolism. Empedocles also remembered when 
his rational soul had occupied the body of a young girl. The 
Emperor Julian believed his soul to have manifested in a 
former life as Alexander the Great, and Proclus, according to 
Marinus, unhesitatingly declared that his rational nature had 
achieved its high dignity while in the body of Nicomachus, 
the Pythagorean. It should be particularly noted that, unlike 
the present popular concept of reincarnation, the ancients did 
not affirm themselves to have been some other person in a 
previous life , but rather that the rational principle dwelling 
in them had previously dwelt in other forms . 

Plotinus writes: “It is a universally admitted belief that 
the soul commits sins, expiates them, undergoes punishment 
in the invisible world, and passes into new bodies.” He might 
also have added that it was a universally admitted belief that 
the Mysteries, by assisting the rational soul in its procedures, 
shortened the number of reincarnations and released the inner 
nature to return to the felicity of its Father-Star. Here, then, 
we have the whole purpose of the Mysteries, which existed 
as institutions of liberation, serving the invisible part of man 
and surviving only in civilizations where the rational nature 
was regarded as worthy of culture and education. Plato also 
affirms that when the soul fails to achieve liberation and 
willfully follows perversity, it passes into the body of a woman. 
This enigmatic statement is generally interpreted to signify 
that the soul takes up its residence in the matrix awaiting 
rebirth. In the profundities of Platonic philosophy, however, 
a truth far more recondite was inferred. General Pleasanton 
discovered that when man degenerates himself through vice 
of excess, his whole constitution is electrically repolarized and, 
electrically, he becomes a woman. This does not mean that 
women are degenerate men, but rather that man in a virtuous 
state is negative in his vital or etheric body, while woman 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

is positive. When through excessive emphasis of physical 
propensities and sensibilities man moves his center of conscious- 
ness into his physical nature, the latter is rendered positive 
(and therefore technically feminine), although its manifesta- 
tions are totally dissimilar to the natural feminine organism 
which is positive by divine decree. Why do we persist in 
accusing the ancients of ridiculous fancies when our own gen- 
eration has proved conclusively the correctness of their deduc- 
tions? There is but one answer: We have arrived at our 
findings through what are termed scientific means or proce- 
dures, and hence arc foolish enough to presume that they 
could not possibly have been discovered in any other way. 
In reality, philosophy armed only with the instruments of 
reason has penetrated the rational sphere where science fears to 
tread, and has left a record of glorious accomplishment in 
every division of learning. 

One other thought before we pass to the consideration of 
another phase of man’s philosophic constitution, namely, the 
incarnation of deeds and the buildings of bodies composed of 
actions. Plato has already affirmed that man as a form pro- 
ceeded from the sensations. It is equally important to bear 
in mind that all thought, feeling, and action, having their 
origin in the superphysical nature, descend like monads from 
their generating sphere, and clothing themselves in appro- 
priate vehicles manifest as entities upon the planes of the 
inferior universe. 

In a symbolical sense insects were regarded by the ancients 
as the incarnations of human attitudes. Butterflies, for example, 
were said to be an expression of the beautiful thoughts of men, 
while evil insects that torment man and beast were the off- 
spring of destructive impulses of the soul. Plagues were attrib 
uted to a similar origin; for the bacillus, coccus, and spirillum 
now the subject of so much scientific disputation were re- 
garded simply as minute organisms enlivened by the various 
emotions of men. 

In the invisible world, therefore, exist manifold orders of 
life that are actually the mental and emotional progeny of 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 399 

human beings. Paracelsus recognized this fact when he 
describes the incubus and the succubus— the demons, male and 
female respectively, fashioned from the stuff of emotional in- 
temperance. Man may yet come to realize that he possesses 
the power to create living things, and in great measure thus 
fashion the instruments for his own torment. When Christian 
theologians substituted hell for the pagan Wheel of Existence, 
they evidently sensed the import of Plato’s intimation that 
physical existence was the death of the spirit. The material 
universe, in whose substances our emotions find vehicles of 
expression and our actions forge weapons to cause us suffering, 
is indeed a sphere of recompense, a world of retribution, a 
place of punishment wherein natures perforce must linger 
until their own innate perversity has been mastered. 

In the Sepher ha Zohar attributed to Rabbi Simeon ben 
Jochai it is written: “Wo to the man who says that the Doc- 
trine delivers common stories and daily words! For if this 
were so, then we also in our time could compose a Doctrine 
in daily words which would deserve jar more praise. If it 
delivered usual words then we should only have to follow 
the lawgivers of the earth, among whom we find far loftier 
words, to be able to compose a Doctrine. Therefore we must 
believe that every word of the Doctrine contains in it a loftier 
sense and a higher MYSTERY. The narratives of the Doctrine 
are its cloak. Wo to him who takes the covering for the 
Doctrine itself. The simple look only at the garment, that is, 
upon the narratives of the Doctrine; more they know not. 
The instructed (initiated) however see not merely the cloak, 
but what the cloak covers.” 

As the written law, thus likened to a garment, conceals 
within it that unwritten law which is the first mystery , so must 
the body of man be regarded as a vestment within which a 
most hidden doctrine is preserved. Moralizing upon the issues 
of Scripture, theology fails utterly to comprehend the hidden 
meaning of the sacred books. It cannot conceive of Scriptures 
as writings concerned with philosophic anatomy, yet such is 
necessarily the case; for the regeneration by which man’s salva- 

400 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tion is wrought must take place within his own constitution, 
To this mystery Socrates alludes when in the First Alcibtades 
he observes that when the soul enters into herself she will 
behold all other things. Proclus further adds that when she 
(the soul) proceeds into her inner recesses and into the adytum 
of her own nature, she perceives with her eye closed the genus 
of the gods and the unities of things. The rites and symbols 
so carefully preserved against the ravages of time and un- 
enlightened ages have been saved for such as can realize that 
the human body itself is the House of Hidden Places, the 
Tabernacle of the Most High God, the place of the initiation, 
the sanctum sanctorum where in properly consecrated chambers 
the deities abide and accept the sacrifices offered up by sensible 

Turning inward from the concerns of the outer life, man 
enters an area dedicated to the immortals. His own interior 
constitution is holy ground, and here the gods, so distant from 
his material concerns mingle their personalities with his ra- 
tional endeavors. Man indeed may be likened to some highly 
glorified snail carrying his own refuge with him, and in mo- 
ments of danger retiring into that stronghold which is his real 
self. The analogies between the house of God in the world 
and the house of God in the soul, have been very carefully 
drawn. To those unfamiliar with the concept, the likeness is 
unsuspected, but the moment the mind ponders the problem 
the analogy becomes obvious. The secrets of the Mysteries 
have always been safe from the profane because the average 
individual applies the principles of ancient philosophy to every- 
thing except himself. The modern student of rounds and 
races, for example, while dividing the whole social order into 
numberless subdivisions, never applies the principle to the 
inner part of his own being. The gods are in the heavens 
and their power is felt to the most distant parts of the earth, 
yet man has not discovered that, most important of all, they 
are sitting upon their golden thrones within his own nature. 
There is a reason why the ancient temples were patterned 
after the human body and why every ritual finds its corres- 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


pondence in some function of man’s composite constitution. 
The studious seeker after the keys to the hidden work will 
do well to take the whole body of symbolism and ritualism 
and attempt to discover their correspondences in the workings 
of his own parts and members. Salvation is not alone a matter 
of theology nor yet a matter of philosophy; it is a matter of 
science and, of sciences, particularly the concern of biology. 
Biological salvation is a formidable term, yet it underlies the 
whole theory of religion, for the redemption of the human 
race cannot be achieved spiritually until each individual has 
come to understand the relationship between all his parts and 
is instructed in the proper manner of combining his forces 
and resources. 

“Man is therefore the quintessence of all the elements,” 
writes Paracelsus, “and a son of the universe or a copy in 
miniature of its Soul, and everything that exists or takes place 
in the universe, exists or may take place in the constitution of 
man. The congeries of forces and essences making up the 
constitution of what we call man, is the same as the congeries 
of forces and powers that on an infinitely larger scale is 
called the Universe, and everything in the Universe reflects 
itself in man, and may come to his consciousness; and this 
circumstance enables a man who knows himself, to know the 
Universe, and to perceive not only that which exists invisibly 
in the Universe, but to foresee and prophesy future events. 
On this intimate relationship between the Universe and Man 
depends the harmony by which the Infinite becomes intimately 
connected with the Finite, the immeasurably great with the 
small. It is the golden chain of Homer, or the Platonic ring ” 

Concerning the spiritual agencies which actuate the vast 
sidereal order we are still comparatively ignorant. In its quest 
science classifies phenomena but senses few of the motives of 
which phenomena are but the transitory expression. We recog- 
nize an infinite life manifesting through an all-powerful urge 
which, communicated to universal bodies, hurls them with 
great violence through the definitionless vistas of space. We 
sense yet cannot fully comprehend the stupendous agency 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

which orders the infinite diversity of existence. Still it profits 
us nothing to contemplate this infinite magnificence; for re- 
coiling from the unimaginable the mind is sickened by the 
awesomeness of cosmic magnitudes. Each new discovery but 
complicates the issues. Men grow tired of the vain quest for 
ultimates, and with a certain measure of relief draw their 
shrouds about them and turn from the whole uncertainty. 
Life becomes a period of vain searching in which the mind, 
certain beforehand that it shall not achieve its goal, struggles 
against its own convictions for a little while. The materialist 
is not really disappointed when failure rewards his efforts, 
for down in his very heart he really expected disappointment 
and would have been genuinely surprised with any other result. 
The most the uninitiated can hope to accomplish is a certain 
classification of the problems of the unknown whereby futurity 
may receive the answerless queries of the past in orderly form. 

The astronomer is cquiped with the finest instrument that 
genius of man can produce. Gazing into the starry night 
through a 40-inch refractor, the pageantry of stars that moves 
across his field of vision is brought a little nearer, but their 
mystery is only compounded by their proximity. How can 
a man, even though long tutored in the science of the heavens, 
sense the motives of these distant spheres when the very blades 
of grass outside his observatory door and within the grasp of 
his hand are a mystery equally unsolvable? If a philosopher 
should enter that observatory and say to the aged astronomer, 
“Your quest is in vain; no lens ever ground by mortal hand 
can discover the souls of the stars,” the scientist would answer, 
“I know that, but how else can I seek? I am born of a race 
that desires to know and I must search, for only by this vain 
endeavor can I satisfy that inner urge. Scientists are men of a 
race apart— a definite mental species; we are eternal questioners, 
servants to an unfulfillablc desire.” The philosopher might 
smile and make reply: “Hie urge to know is proof of the 
power to know; for the mind does not seek that which is 
incomprehensible, but is ever attempting to manifest in its 
outer functions that knowledge which is inseparable from its 

A Philosophic Consideration op Man 403 

inner nature. The knowledge you desire is achievable and 
you arc divided from it only by your method of approach. 
Imagine that instead of this telescope — the inanimate product 
of mechanical skill — you possessed a living lens by which the 
stars could be brought closer to you than your very self. 
Do you not realize that you yourself are a telescope and that 
by looking through your own being you can discover the 
secrets that lurk upon the very boundaries of space? Your 
own composite nature is a living instrument by whose virtues 
you partake of the sun, the moon, and the stars; your soul 
is of the very stuff which lights the stars, and by virtue of 
these in you and yourself in them their secrets are comprehen- 
sible to you. The life that actuates your own parts is a measure 
of that Universal Life, and the form that renders all these 
intangible agents perceptible to the outer senses is one with 
the spirit of form, whether it exists in the earth or in the sky. 
If you would understand universal mysteries you must realize 
that only through the living instruments that have united to 
form your own being are the divisions of cosmic life rendered 
perceptible. Turn from your telescope which can show you 
little more than your own unaided eye and will but confuse 
your already tired brain. Turn to the analysis of your own 
nature — the manifold parts which unite to form your whole- 
ness— for by learning to know the mystery of your own being 
you will come to understand the wonders of the All.” 

Man’s only hope of knowing is vested in himself. The 
creative ingenuity which continually manifests in the develop- 
ment of the arts and sciences discloses, in some measure, man’s 
indwelling Divinity. Though comparatively insignificant, the 
individual is nevertheless a creature with awareness and the 
capacity for infinite realization and understanding. While in 
magnitude he verges toward the inconsequential in potentiality 
he inclines toward universal immensities. It is irrational, there- 
fore, to judge humanity by the measure of its outward struc- 
ture. Rather, we must sense through unfolding superphysical 
faculties the spiritual sufficcncy of that inward part from which 
the visible man is suspended. Man is the magnificent atom 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

which baffles estimation and defies analysis. The universe 
in turn is the magnificent man; one of that race of giants by 
whose assembly space is rendered populous. Mortals congre- 
gate to form communities; these universal beings congregate to 
form clusters and galaxies of stars. It has been said that men 
are the shadows of the gods. The simile is most poetic, but 
man is more than this; for the “shadow” is substantial and to 
it Divinity has imparted something of itself that the likeness 
may share the virtues of the original. The life of the aspiring 
disciple is forever flowing toward his Father-God, that radiant 
star whose light shines clearly and steadily throughout eternity. 
Man is forever seeking to escape from his own littleness and 
return to that greatness which abides in space. The soul 
springs from a race of giants and yearns for the strength of 
its progenitors; man’s throne is in the heavens and he longs 
for the day when entering into his own right, he shall seat 
himself with the immortals. 

All this we must remember when, gazing upon the mortal 
stature, we are led to erroneously conceive man to be a creature 
of flesh and bone and ignore his reality as a vast being fashioned 
from the stuff of aspiration, Man may be likened to a walled 
city standing on the edge of the desert. In the midst of the 
city is a well, and from it lead the roads which pass through 
the gates of the city and become the routes for caravans. The 
walled city finds its analogue in the body, the gates with their 
dusty trails are the senses, and the well springing up in the 
midst of the city is the ever-flowing life by which both the 
community itself and the wandering caravans are nourished 
and sustained. Man’s personality conceals his inner life as 
effectively as the cold, gray battlements of a fortified town 
conceal the bustling community that lies behind it. When 
we see only the physical nature of the individual we behold 
that which least adequately expresses, and often most misinter- 
prets, the internal qualities. Hence the disciple of the Ancient 
Wisdom is taught to realize that man is not essentially a per- 
sonality, but a spirit. His outer parts are not the measure of 
his inner virtues, but contribute that weakness of the flesh which 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 405 

all too often brings to naught the willingness of the spirit. 
The body can never know the noble ideals which impel the 
spirit toward accomplishment. Digestion and assimilation are 
the concerns of the body; to such homely ends it concerns its 

Above the provinces of instinct and sensation come the 
concerns of the rational life. The Greeks gloried in their 
ability to become rational animals, for man is a rational animal. 
However, that which is rational and that which is animal 
are actually two definitely divided natures. Rationality is na- 
tural to transubstantial organisms, but is contrary to the moods 
of matter. Unless the rational part retires from its own body 
and meditates alone, it cannot escape the chidings of the flesh. 
Now this separation was accomplished by means of the fourth- 
dimensional, or qualitative, interval. Seated in the midst of 
his disciples the ancient philosopher, unheeding the nagging 
demands of the body that disturb the equilibrium of the 
rational soul, discoursed at length upon the verities of the 
intellectual life, regarding his physical vehicle as an organ of 
expression, a temperament suitable for communication, a struc- 
ture which focused intellect and thus rendered its findings 
communicable. The true philosopher maintains the efficiency 
of his inferior nature not because he is a servant to its dictates, 
but because his own creative expression is dependent upon the 
physical nature for concrete organization and tangibility. 

Thought is the compensation of the original thinker. In 
matters of the mind, as in matters of finance, man is paid for 
what he gives, and owes for what he gets. No creative mind 
can be underpaid, for thought is its own reward and comes 
as adequate compensation for rational endeavor. Enriched by 
his own activities, the philosopher soon becomes fabulously 
wealthy in that most priceless of all possessions: reason. On 
the other hand, he who listens to the thoughts of the wise is 
daily contracting new debts, and the longer he listens the 
poorer he becomes. This may explain why disciples seldom 
surpass their masters, unless, as Aristotle, they depart from 
the master's premises. Men eagerly frequent the assemblages of 

406 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

the wise hoping to pick up the stray bits of knowledge that 
may fall like crumbs from the banquet table. Those who feed 
upon the crusts of wisdom, however, become more impover- 
ished even as they eat, and he who listens long enough will 
eventually become bankrupt from his listening. When the day 
of payment arrives the unfortunate debtor has nothing with 
which to pay but his own life. Most of those who now suffer 
from spiritual and intellectual ailments suffer from the listeners 
disease. Men who seek masters shall be rewarded by becoming 
slaves, for it is the free man who speaks and the bondsman 
who listens. The modern school child is impoverished 
through the act of remembering, and starts life hopelessly in 
debt. To a certain extent the great minds of the world have 
rendered humanity mentally indigent. By being a great philos- 
opher Plato has rendered innumerable other minds unsound, 
and thus contributed to the ethical delinquency of millions. 
In a similar sense Christianity is in bankruptcy to its founder, 
and the Orient will never be able to pay Buddha the interest 
on its indebtedness. 

Instead of stimulating the body of thought the philosopher 
all too often paralyzes it. The great teachers of the world have 
ever drawn to themselves a coterie of mental corpses which, 
like dead planets, take on a semblance of life by reflecting the 
radiance of the central orb about which they revolve. Fol- 
lowers, to use the words of Shakespeare, “have a lean and 
hungry look.” Though totally unmindful of the fact, they are 
actually economizing in an effort to liquidate. Disciples owe 
so much that they dare look no man in the face, but feel duty 
bound to spend their days and nights hymning their instructors 
with proper “Glorias.” Philosophy today is overwhelmed by 
a deluge of nondescript " ites r". We have the Hegel //<-,<■, the 
BcrgsomVe/, the Benthamite/, the Miller ites, the WatsomVf/, 
cum multis aliis . This -ite is the significator of approbation 
and agreement, a fervent so-mote-it-be, as it were, from the 
“Amen” corner. Individuals incapable of formulating even a 
notion of their own, frantically search for someone to agree 
with, thereby entering upon the path of mental deterioration 

A Philosophic Consideration of Man 


in which the intellect descends from the simple state of not 
knowing to the actual inability to know. An individual who 
becomes an -ite consequently pleads intellectual bankruptcy and 
assumes what must ultimately prove to be the odious role of serf. 

From all this it becomes evident that thought is its own 
reward; that no man can actually profit from the labors of 
others but must work out his own mental salvation with un- 
tiring diligence. The purpose of a great mind is to inspire to 
accomplishment, but this end is usually frustrated by an ador- 
ing multitude who cannot preserve inspiration as an indefinite 
quality but must become letter worshipers by prostrating their 
own minds before a superior intellect. It has always been a 
serious question to me whether Jesus ever actually spoke the 
words: "If ye love me, keep my commandments,” for the 
statement is clearly out of accord with both divine and human 
reason and reeks to high heaven with the sanctified odor of 
pious interpolation. Truth personified might well cry out: 
“Let him who loves me, seek me himself and discover me 
in his own way, and I will reward him with myself.” In 
an old alchemical figure is depicted an aged alchemist out with 
a lantern at night following in the footsteps of wisdom, while 
in another part of the picture is a group of worldly-wise men 
huddled together exchanging their notions with each other, 
and totally oblivious to the spirit of Truth but a few feet 
distant from them. You who would discover the inner mys- 
teries of life, depart from the concepts of the many. Be not 
followers of strange gods, but seek Reality according to the 
impulses of your own higher rationality. Become creative 
thinkers, not simply followers of blind cults. Admit enslave- 
ment to no mind; read the words of the wise, but think for 
yourself. Attend to the conversations of the learned, but let 
your conclusions be your own. Be not hasty to condemn, but 
accept only that which you are capable of reasoning through 
with the aid of that divine power resident within. And finally, 
remember the words of Buddha: “I will not believe a thing 
because any man says it, not even if it be the reputed word of 
God. I will only believe it when to me it is true.” 


The ziggurats, or observation towers, of the Chaldeans rise in seven sphal tc ^ fC( j 
and signify the astral sphere composed of the sidereal agencies of the seven ^ 
planets. In its ascent to the gods the regenerated soul climbs the sp ira * P ^ad 
returning to each of the planetary spirits the respective soul qualities i 
originally bestowed. 


The Ladder of the Gods 

VV7ITH his “opened eye” the Dangma, or initiated disciple, 
vv beholds as a grand staircase the concatenated order of 
worlds that extends upward from the material darkness, which 
is the mundane sphere, and disappears into that impenetrable 
spiritual darkness which is the abiding state of the First Divin- 
ity. The midmost portion of this staircase is illumined by the 
light of reason, but its extremities are rendered incomprehen- 
sible by a Stygian gloom. This flight of worlds rests upon 
earth’s lurid base, and the first steps are slimy with the fetid 
rot of matter. Rising in many levels from this ignoble footing, 
the stairway of spheres vanishes into the very presence of tran- 
scendent Cause, whose blinding radiance, ill-concealed by seven 
thousand veils, is to man’s unordered vision an utter lightless- 
ness. This is the mystic ladder of Jacob’s vision upon which 
the patriarch beheld the angelic choirs. Two great streams of 
souls move upon this symbolic staircase, one ascending and the 
other descending, impelled by the rhythm of generation. 
Virgin spirits, eternal with the fullness of God, emerge from 
behind the veils that cover The Threefold Darkness above, 
and swooping downward with birdlike speed are enveloped in 
the noxious vapors of mortality. 

Of this descent Plotinus writes: “And thus the soul, though 
of divine origin, and proceeding from the regions on high, 
becomes merged in the dark receptacle of body; and being 
naturally a posterior god, it descends hither through a certain 
voluntary inclination, for the sake of power, and of adorning 
inferior concerns. Hence, if it swiftly flies from hence it will 
suffer no injury from its revolt, since by this means it receives 
a knowledge of evil, unfolds its latent powers, and exhibits a 



Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

variety of operations peculiar to its nature, which by perpetu- 
ally abiding in an incorporeal habit, and never proceeding into 
energy, would have been bestowed in vain.” Entering the 
inferior gloom these souls are swallowed up in the living death 
of the body. This mystery was revealed by the secret rites of 
the Phrygians, as evidenced by Hippolytus. Hence Heraclites 
declares that we live the death of the soul and die the life of 
the soul, thus arcanely intimating that when the rational na- 
ture agitates the irrational nature, bestowing upon it the sem- 
blance of life, it sacrifices its own life and only regains liberty 
by retiring from the concerns of the outer organism. Lament- 
ing the “unaccustomed state” in which his soul found itself 
in form, Empedocles declares that the process of generation 
causes the living to pass into the dead. 

From below mount upward the redeemed, whose natures, 
increasingly luminous, shine like stars in a Cimmerian night. 
From the dismal underworld — the abode of vain fears and 
terrible regrets — moves an endless file, climbing steadily toward 
God up the steps, or worlds, of its salvation. Thus the illus- 
trious ones who are approaching the summit of their tedious 
climb, are in the terms of Plato, “raised above all inferior 
good.” Concerning the return of the liberated soul to its 
virgin nature, H. P. Blavatsky writes: “This is the state which 
such seers as Plotinus and Apollonius termed the ‘Union to 
the Deity’; which the ancient Yogins called lsvara, and the 
modern call ‘Sammaddhi*; but this state is as far above modern 
clairvoyance as the stars above glow-worms. Plotinus, as is 
well known, was a clairvoyant-seer during his whole and daily 
life; and yet, he had been united to his God but six times 
during the sixty-six years of his existence, as he himself con- 
fessed to Porphyry.” From the foregoing it is evident that 
the soul for many ages alternately retires from and approaches 
Divinity, only stabilizing its nature after being completely dis- 
entangled from the concerns of the flesh. It is not intended 
that mortal man should as yet be constant in his power to 
behold the Perfect Face, but that strengthened by intermittent 
vision he shall strive with greater temerity to establish the con- 
tinuity of the spiritual perceptions. 

The Ladder op the Gods 


From the many levels, which together form the vast stair- 
case, pour forth lives in quest of forms, and forms in quest 
of life. From the pits of mortal slime crawl repulsive creatures 
whose sightless eyes are unresponsive to the light. Slowly, 
painfully, awkwardly, these half-animate monstrosities obey 
the deep hidden urge of an imprisoned soul, and grope their 
way toward truth. From the dark fastnesses of the mist- 
reeking jungle come forth the slinking horrors whose claws are 
death and whose bared fangs were fashioned to rend and tear. 
Then from the broad plains come the patient, sad-eyed, serving 
brutes, which see and feel but cannot understand. From the 
dark caves of earth’s primal day emerges the dim progenitor 
of man who, beating his hairy breast with crude, misshapen 
hands, emitted the first war-cry of his kind. The distant places 
also give up their savage hordes, for slayer and savior alike are 
marching on through the ages toward inevitable perfection. 
Breaking the shackles that bind them to the grindstones of 
the mighty, the slaves join the great processional, as do the 
merchants who barter and sell, and the thieves who scheme 
and steal. From their marble tombs rise up the spirits of 
the hero dead— the Caesars and the Alexanders— and from their 
honored crypts come forth prince and potentate bearing orb 
and scepter, and gathering their ermine robes about them they 
solemnly climb the stairs of space. Higher upon the great 
flight are the scientists and the philosophers, who in pensive 
mood plod the weary way. At the very point where the 
staircase disappears into the mysterious presence of the Ineffable 
stand the radiant saviors — the great teachers of humanity— 
who dimly visible for a moment, pass into the darkness of 
God. Awesome is the spectacle of this grand march — souls 
moving toward their Maker; passing from form to form in 
the endless quest for the formless; approaching ever nearer 
to that greatness which is the virtue of perfection. Though 
an infinite diversity confronts the eye, yet the whole mystery 
may be summed up in three short words: God seeking God. 

Philosophy does not give the soul freedom from Universal 
Law. In The Doctrine of the Mean, it is written: The heaven- 
ly appointment of life is called nature; an accordance with 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

human nature is called the way; and the regulation of the way 
is called religion.” (From the Confucian ethics as revealed in 
The Four BooJ(s.) The power exercised by Buddhism is largely 
due to the magnificent concept promulgated by it concerning 
the march of the self to perfection. Oppressed by the irksome- 
ness of their tasks, and rendered hopeless by the ignobility of 
their station, the Sudras of India were victimized by a decadent 
Brahmanism. Following the letter and not the spirit of Manu's 
law, the “Holy Born” sedulously avoided contact with inferiors 
lest the pollution of promiscuous relationships endanger that 
state of sanctity in which their Brahman souls reposed. That 
golden age had passed when “rich in royal worth and valor, 
rich in holy Vedic lore,” the “Head Born” were the virtuous 
stewards of the gods. In the Sha^Swayamvara of the Ramayana 
is described a noble Brahman king who ruled the righteous city, 

“Like the ancient monarch Manu, father of the human race, 

Dasa-ratha ruled his people with a father’s loving grace. 

Truth and Justice swayed each action and each 
baser motive quelled, 

People’s Love and Monarch’s Duty every thought and 
deed impelled.” 

A superfluity of laws often proves more detrimental than 
an insufficiency of laws. In the service of their countless statutes 
the Brahmans became oppressors of life. Themselves subser- 
vient to the cumbersome regulations which they had prescribed 
for others, the Brahmans also suffered from a plentitude of 
codes which regulated thought and action until life was re- 
duced to a mere span of forms and conventions. But while the 
holy Brahman enjoyed a certain uncomfortable security, the 
Sudra, bereft even of hope, found his lot little better than that 
of the beast. The gods presumably were too busily engaged 
in answering the unceasing prayers of the “Twice Born” pious 
to lend an ear to the supplications of the lowly. To these 
victims erf a misinterpreted caste system Buddhism brought the 
inspiring doctrine of freedom in bondage. While the Sudra 


The Ladder of the Gods 


could not throw off the metaphorical shackles that bound his 
physical members, he did free his inner and immortal self 
from the concepts of limitation and despair. Buddhism re- 
vealed the stairway of the immortals, and through this doctrine 
(which verges on metaphysical evolution) gave hope of ul- 
timate accomplishment to those millions for whom present 
accomplishment was impossible. Inspired by this new hope, 
those who previously had cursed their tragic lot sang at their 
tasks; those who had looked forward to a life of pain smiled 
through their tears; and those who had faced eternity with 
fear and trembling were rendered strong by the knowledge of 
life’s purpose. The miseries of the today were forgotten, and 
men dwelt together in a glorious tomorrow. The lowly uncaste 
sensed the Brahman within his frame, for to the sinner had 
been revealed the hidden saint within. 

Indra’s city vanished from the sky; the gods were dissipated 
like mist before the dawn of reason; only Self remained — the 
glorious Universal Self, the One who is in all, the All which 
is in each. Rising up against their heavenly despots and 
emancipating themselves from the hierarchies of fears they had 
worshipped, the Sudras declared themselves free men of the 
universe. Thus the letter gave place again to the spirit, and 
human beings faced their own thoughts and actions unafraid. 
Armed with the tools of the Noble Path, each true believer 
hewed an appropriate destiny from the eternal substances of 
being. Recognizing his state to signify that of greatest sepa- 
rateness, the Sudra began to ascend the ladder of diversity, 
finally raising himself to unity upon its several rungs. True 
philosophy inspires with the courage to accomplish, and equips 
with the patience to wait; it reveals not only the end, but also 
the means to that end. Philosophy is indeed a mystical ladder 
up which men climb from ignorance to reason. Its rungs are 
the arts and sciences, and he who ascends the whole of the 
way finds that its upper extremity rests in the substances of an 
invisible but most substantial world — the proper abode of the 
wise. Here are the groves of learning where the sages sit 
together musing upon consequential. This is a sphere of 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

peace, for with depth of learning wrangling ceases and “the 
thoughtful mind to solitude retires/’ This is indeed the place 
of the Isarim, or blessed souls, of which the Rabbins dreamed 
and where the Kcdeshim pondered over the great Sod; for it 
is written in the Proverbs: “And his Sod are for the Isarim.” 

“Fear not,” admonished Pythagoras in The Golden Verses, 
“men come from a heavenly race and are taught by a diviner 
Nature that which they should accept and that which they 
should reject.” Philo Judaeus describes the allegorical ladder 
which is raised from earth to heaven, showing its macrocosmic 
analogies and its application to the microcosm, or man. This 
ladder, according to Philo, is of the world its astral part and 
of man the soul; “the foot of which is, as it were, its earthly 
part— namely, sensation; while its head is, as it were, its 
heavenly part— the purest mind.” Upon this ladder move what 
Philo terms the Logi, which may be interpreted as cither the 
“Words” or, more generally, the “Gods.” To these Words or 
Gods is ascribed a very secret and wonderful meaning. In the 
chapter on The Annihilation of the Sense of Diversity we have 
already described the spheres of realization, or consciousness, 
which man causes to manifest out of his own potentialities. 
The level of integrity upon which the individual functions is 
his level or sphere of consciousness and each of these levels or 
spheres, when considered as a whole, is a “God” or “Word” 
of power moving upon the ladder. Thus Philo declares that 
when the Logi ascend they draw the ladder, or soul, up with 
them, which arcanely intimates two things: (1) that the Gods 
or Words cannot descend other than by the soul, and having 
once perfected the soul lose contact with the world; (2) that 
the soul in its ascent absorbs inferior natures into itself so that 
as it rises there is nothing left beneath it. The Golden Verses 

“Thy mind’s reins let reason guide: 

Then stripped of flesh up to free iEther soar, 

A deathless God, Divine, mortal no more.” 

In his dream Jacob beheld a mysterious ladder with its foot 
upon the earth and its top extending upward into the divine 

The Ladder of the Gods 


sphere. In the Mysteries it is declared that seventy-two aeons, 
or angels, moved upon the ladder. These angels arc the seventy- 
two names or powers that emanate from Shem-Hammcphorash 
—the separate and ineffable Deity. Ibn Ezra, writing in the 
12th century, states on the authority of Ibn Gebirol that the 
ladder which Jacob saw in his dream signified the superior, 
or rational soul, and that the angels of Elohim which ascend 
and descend thereon arc the abstract thoughts of wisdom 
which attach themselves at the same time, both to a spiritual, 
or superior subject, and also to the corporeal and inferior, 
TTie word which has been rendered “ladder” is sdam , which 
means “that which is piled into a heap, raised up or lifted,” 
and it is upon this raised or exalted place that the Malawi Elohim 
moved up and down. We cannot do better than consider 
the meaning of the word sdam as here employed. Albert Pike 
states that in archaic Hebrew there was no word to designate 
a pyramid. In the word Jcrusdem, for example, sdem is gen- 
erally interpreted to mean “peace” and Melchizedck, the prince 
of Salem, was called the lord of peace. It might be more 
accurate, however, to replace the word “peace” with “exalted” 
or “lifted,” in which event Jerusalem could be intrepreted 
to mean “the city of the ladder ” In this connection the fact 
should not be overlooked that Mohammed on his night journey 
to heaven, after arriving at Jerusalem on Alborak, beheld a 
ladder formed of golden rope descending from heaven. The 
lower end of this ladder rested upon Mount Moriah, and 
climbing the swaying stair the Prophet of Islam entered into 
the very presence of the living but many-veiled God. 

In the Ancient Wisdom it was also declared that the sacred 
mountains of the world rose in seven steps or stages (as the 
Meru of the Hindus), and it was from the high place, or the 
seventh step, that offerings were made to the Lord whose 
name is Blessed. Not only did the holy place rise in seven 
platforms or levels, but upon its topmost level was usually 
erected a triform symbol of the Divine Nature itself. Thus 
the seven steps, complemented by this threefold figure, became 
the mysterious Pythagorean dccad, or the symbol of the tenfold 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

order of the universe. Jacob’s ladder then actually becomes the 
symbolic mountain or pyramid. Pyramids, wherever found, 
are symbolic of the axis mountain of the world— the Olympus, 
Asgard, and Meru of the pagans, and possibly the rock Moriah 
upon which the temple stood at Jerusalem. In his Pagan Idol- 
atry, Faber describes the Mithraic ladder used in the initiatory 
rites of the Persian Mysteries, which he affirms was in reality 
a pyramid of seven steps, further declaring that on each step 
was a door. In the ceremonials, the neophyte climbed the 
pyramid, passing through the seven doors, and then through 
similar portals descended on the opposite side. This pyramid 
was symbolic of both the world and the sidereal system. Nearly 
all great buildings of antiquity were symbolic of the universe, 
and according to Cicero the conquering Xerxes destroyed the 
temples of the Greeks, declaring that the entire world was the 
proper house of God and that Deity was profaned when man pre- 
pared for him a house less dignified than his own solar mansion. 

Celsus gives a certain key to the ceremonials of the Mithraic 
rite, but of these Mysteries comparatively little is known. Hav- 
ing passed successfully through the dangers imposed by his 
initiators, the candidate was invested with a great cape either 
embroidered or painted with stars, and with the constellations 
of the zodiac ornamenting the hem. Like the starry hat of 
Atys, these star-strewn cloaks signified the soul in its highest 
and most causal aspect. Thus by the Mysteries a heavenly 
nature was conferred, and men who formerly dwelt about the 
earth itself were raised to a heavenly abode and their whole 
natures invested with celestial raiment. The corporeal body 
was transmuted by the Mysteries into a celestial body, for men 
who had previously enveloped themselves in the dark garments 
of form now put on a more luminous garb resplendent with 
the heavenly lights. Above the earth are the planets; above the 
planets are the stars. Uninitiated mortals exist in physical 
natures limited to the concerns of the earth and are termed 
material because their rational natures are in servitude to a 
mortal constitution. Disciples are those who take upon them- 
selves the striped garments of the planets — the cloak of many 

The Ladder of the Gods 


colors whose shades denote the aspects of the astral soul. When 
the aspirant has transcended the concerns of the planets and 
risen through their orbits to liberation, he then assumes the 
starry clothing of the firmament. Thus the stars are symbols 
of spirit, the planets of soul, and the elements of body. Herein 
lies the explanation for the three-runged ladder which unites 
heaven and earth. The rungs of this ladder are the three mys- 
teries perpetuated in Freemasonry as the Blue Lodge. The 
lowest round is physical, the second emotional, and the third 
mental; for it was written in the ancient work: “Our thoughts 
are from the stars, our emotions from the planets, and our 
forms from the earth.” 

Entering the chamber of the Mithraic rites the candidate 
found himself in a great cavern either formed by natural means 
or hewn from solid rock by the priests. In the center of the 
cavern stood a pyramid rising in seven steps, each of its levels 
painted a different color. In some cases the pyramid was 
divided into definite platforms; in others a narrow spiral 
pathway wound from base to summit as in the Chaldean 
ziggurats, or astronomical towers. From the flight of steps 
leading up the face of the pyramid access to the various planes 
or levels was had through low gates, each composed of a differ- 
ent metal. The description given by Celsus of these metals is 
probably a “blind,” for the ancients followed a definite system 
which he has deviated from. Conducted by the hierophant 
who discoursed to him concerning the mysteries as he pro- 
gressed, the neophyte ascended the steps of the pyramid, first 
entering through a silver gate onto the platform of the moon. 
Beyond was another gate resembling brass, which was that of 
Mercury, and still farther on a third gate of copper sacred 
to Venus. The fourth gate was of gold, the fifth of iron, the 
sixth of tin, and the seventh, and last, of lead. After passing 
through these gates the neophyte found himself upon a flat 
square area, and before him a triangular altar upon which 
burned three fires. 

The master of the rite then explained that by this ascent 
was revealed the felicity of liberated souls— the joyous upward 
motion of lives toward their sovereign cause; that passing from 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

one plane to another the candidate had recapitulated the after- 
death process by which his superphysical constitution verged 
away from matter and inclined itself toward the immaterial 
foundation which is in the heavens and concealed from the 
profane by the leaden ramparts of Saturn. In his climb the 
aspirant had actually stepped from planet to planet, leaving 
behind him the inferior spheres, finally to approach proximity 
to that threefold fire— the triform flame of unimaginable being 
that bums forever and a day upon the glorious altar of Uni- 
versal Reality. “Learn, O my son,” the master continued, 
“the mystery of the ever-burning fire whose triple wick dipped 
in an inexhaustible fuel burns with steady luminosity through- 
out all the Aions. The first flame is Universal Life, the second 
Universal Light, and the third Universal Motion, and these 
together are one flame. God is a blinding light and a con- 
suming fire, for his light is eternal reason which renders all 
things visible and comprehensible. Light the lamp of your 
own mind upon this altar of Eternal Mind, that the reason 
which is in all things may call forth the reason that is in 
you. When the lamp of your reason is lighted, all things 
become evident; the dark mysteries of life are dissipated and 
the glow of realization causes all secrets to reveal thmselves and 
all hidden works to be made manifest. The base of this pyr- 
amid is square. It is your body. Its four elements combine to 
produce the mystic cube called man, The seven steps are your 
senses by which the within comes to know the without and 
which the without climbs, even as a ladder, to discover the 
within. Consciousness, ascending the ladder of the senses 
finally brings its message to the inner nature. The threefold 
flame here is the One, the Beautiful, and the Good, which 
together are the light of equality, the torch of r^son, and the 
magical fire the magician must carry if he would invoke the 
dread person of Deity.” 

Upon the other side of this pyramid the stairs descend into 
the darkness of the cavern below. The candidate follows his 
initiator down again into the darkness of the subterranean 
room. Having passed through the metallic gates and standing 
once more at the base of the pyramid, the initiator resumes: 

The Ladder of the Gods 


“This descent signifies the soul departing from its state of 
felicity and, after passing downward through the gates of the 
Seven Spheres taking upon itself the sorrows of birth. In the 
gloomy cavern of the world uninitiated men and women 
struggle vainly against the inevitable reactions of their own 
ignorance. Seeking permanence in an impermanent sphere 
they suffer without respite and their lot is indeed desperate. 
But those who by rational procedure have discovered the 
pyramidal nature of creation and learned to know the order 
of divine procedure whereby man ascends and descends the 
steps of destiny — such can no longer be bound to the untranquil 
sphere, but abiding therein a little while and tolerating its sor- 
rows, prepare themselves for a more auspicious day by inclining 
their minds to reason. 

“By these mysteries, then, is arcanely revealed the order of 
life and by this pyramid the procedure of life. He who accepts 
the mystery into himself and ponders its meaning will be re- 
warded for his industry by the realization of sidereal order. 
We are ever walking up and down the steps of space— descend- 
ing either from a more blissful state into one of uncertainty, 
or ascending from an uncertain state into one of blessed felicity. 
He who comprehends the wisdom of this divine motion will 
realize that God is ever drawing lives to himself that they may 
partake of the fullness of his inspiration, and then casting them 
from him again that through great need they may learn to 
value the fullness of that inspiration. From the presence of the 
Unchanging One there pours ever downward through the 
substances of the invisible world a host of souls moving in- 
evitably into birth, while from the world of visible and tan- 
gible physical things there comes a host of souls pouring into 
death. Those coming into life descend the ladder, and those 
coming into death ascend the ladder, for death brings the soul 
nearer to God than does birth. Through the Mysteries there 
pours still another stream — that exalted order which ascends 
the great pyramid to descend no more, who upon reaching 
the fiery altar upon its summit cast themselves into the eternal 
flame, and from their own natures feed its eternal hunger.” 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In his Chemical Marriage Christian Rosenkreutz describes 
the vision of C. R. C. as he slept shackled in the antechamber 
of the House of Initiation. In his dream C. R. C. beheld the 
strange sight of a multitude of persons suspended from heaven 
by cords. In an early Rosicrucian book which I examined some 
years ago the subject of these “hanging men” was elucidated 
in detail. The dangling figures are the sophists, those false 
learners who ever seek to climb to heaven upon their own 
suppositions. We are all supported by our beliefs, held up as 
it were by the strength of our premises and the sufficiency of 
our postulations. Yet in all too many instances how slender and 
inadequate is the thread of mortal reason to which we trust 
our weight. Among the Sons of Islam there is an ancient fable 
to the effect that there shall come forth a prophet who will 
stretch a hair from the Mount of Olives to the golden gate of 
Jerusalem, and using it for a bridge will walk across the Valley 
of Jehoshaphat, or the place of death. The hair, according to 
the Cabala, is the symbol of the glory of God and the countless 
diversity of his mercy. Taking this fable in its literal sense, 
a Mohammedan fanatic wove a rope of human hair and 
essayed the feat, but was killed. 

In the legend of Christian Rosenkreutz it is further stated 
that an aged man (who represents Cronus, or Time, the justifier 
of all actions) flew in and out among the hanging sophists. 
Wearing an hourglass tied to the top of his head and carrying 
In his hand a pair of sharp shears, the divine iconoclast would 
fly up behind any of the worldly-wise men who climbed too 
ambitiously up their swaying ropes and cut away their slender 
support. Another observation by the author of the Chemical 
Marriage is to the effect that the higher these false learners 
climbed, the harder and more disastrous was their fall, so that 
many were dashed to pieces. The more prudent ones, how- 
ever, realizing the insecurity of their position, remained close 
to the earth and suffered comparatively little harm when their 
cords were cut, often alighting uninjured upon their feet. 

We all share in common the desire to climb to heaven up 
the ladder of our own convictions, and believing ourselves to 

The Ladder of the Gods 


be infallible, we set out to storm the gates of the Eternal. No 
spectacle is more pathetic than that of the individual who, 
led to false and dizzy heights by his egotism, has been dashed 
therefrom into the depths of misery and disillusionment. The 
more we depend upon the false the more we suffer when that 
falseness is exposed. The story of the hanging men is evidtntly 
concerned with the effort to ridicule those Aristotelian school- 
men whose fallacies were already apparent at the beginning of 
the 17th century. Elevated above their fellow men by vain 
assertions, and maintaining themselves by subterfuge and equiv- 
ocation, these pedants preyed upon the credulity of an illiterate 
age. But time was finding them out, for science, rising out of 
this protest against intellectual pettifoggery, furnished Cronus 
with the shears wherewith to cut down the scholastic befogger 
of issues. In this allegory heaven is used to signify the sphere 
of the truly learned, for it was presumed that those whose 
knowledge was sufficient dwelt in a state of tranquillity far 
above the abode of ordinary mortals tormented by doubt and 
rendered impotent by ignorance. 

The light of tranquillity, as the followers of Boehme might 
call it, radiates from the paradisaic sphere of the contented. 
Humanity moves instinctively toward that tranquil state of the 
philosophic blest, for we incline toward that person or condition 
which radiates happiness. This instinct has been shamelessly 
exploited in the name of religion, but the age of empty prom- 
ises is closed. Having vainly sought happiness among the 
dictums of faith and in the company of the so-called holy, the 
individual is coming to realize that peace lies only within 
himself. In Dryden’s translation of the Aeneid are found 
several significant copper engravings, one particularly showing 
a genius cutting the slender thread of life connecting mortal 
man with his divine origin. A small plate also showing this 
thread issuing from the crown of the head and disappearing 
upward into a cloud of divine radiance is to be found in 
Michael Maier’s Scrutinium Chymicum . 

Various modifications of this idea constituted a favorite 
theme of the medieval emblem writers, especially such as were 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

in touch with the Rosicrucian activities. This thread rising 
from the head is the Platonic cord— a fine hypothetical line 
which unites the personality to its own causal part. According 
to the Hermetic axiom of analogy, as the spirit and body of 
man are connected by a thread, so heaven and earth— the spirit 
and body of the solar man — are united by this swaying ladder 
which, lowered from above, becomes the way of souls descend- 
ing into life. Cronus with his reaping scythe is the guardian 
of this rope, and at his will the line is severed and all the 
objective nature dissociated from its causal principle. This 
thread, then, is Btfrost, the bridge of the gods, over the im- 
mortals — like the Aesir of Scandinavia — crossed before its final 
severance when returning to their sacred castle. Like the 
builders of the fated Tower of Babel, the worldly-wise men of 
C. R. C.’s vision sought to elevate personality above principle 
and draw the body above its own source; hence their ultimate 
discomfiture. By attempting to elevate an impermanent na- 
ture to a divine state they attempted the impossible and so 
Death, the master of processes, cut down each one in turn; 
for that man does not exist who shall be empowered to reach 
heaven in his physical nature. The cords are the faith and 
power that sustain the individual during the prime of his life, 
but like life itself, power is a physical uncertainty, and neither 
wealth, position, nor physical knowledge can support the soul 
in that dread extremity which men are pleased to term death. 

In his vision of the Apocalypse, the initiate, known to the 
Christians as St. John the Divine, experienced in his ascent to 
heaven the spiritual mystery of climbing upward through the 
seven congregations or churches “which are in Asia,” finally 
coming to the door in the heavenly vault and passing through 
into the Empyrean to find himself in the presence of the Lord 
of the Cherubim and the Paschal Lamb. St. John is described 
as being “in the spirit,” a good old Neoplatonic term. From 
this we are to infer that the Gnostic initiate had learned the 
mystery of the rope swinging from heaven, for according to 
tradition he had climbed his way hand over hand in approved 
nautical fashion. Mohammed, a prudent man of more portly 

The Ladder op the Gods 


build, overtaxed the meager facilities of a knotted rope and con- 
sequently employed (if we are to believe the accounts) a safer 
and more commodious rope ladder in his ascent. In substance, 
however, the experiences of the two initiates were practically 
identical, and though slight differences exist in the terminology 
of the symbolism, nevertheless the principle involved demon- 
strates that both men had been initiated — St. John presumably 
by the Gnostics and Mohammed by the Nestorian Christians. 
St. John the Divine employed seven great Asiatic cities to sym- 
bolize the spiritual knots or ganglia, which placed at intervals 
along the rope assisted the climber in his difficult task. Moham- 
med’s rope ladder was of golden cords and its rungs presum- 
ably were fashioned from the substances of the seven worlds. 
He was forced, it is said, to stop at each of the seven gates to 
receive the adoration of the patriarchs, who had apparently 
waited since their demise for his coming. 

There is also an East Indian fable of the goddess Kundalini 
who, being of an inquisitive mind and seeing a rope hanging 
from heaven with its lower end concealed in impenetrable 
gloom, decided to climb down this rope and investigate the 
unknown darkness below. Having descended the rope for an 
incalculable period, Kundalini discovered that its lower end 
rested upon an island that seemed to float in the midst of a 
great sea of darkness. While exploring this strange island the 
rope was cut from above, and Kundalini was left floating in 
the midst of a vast ocean. In terror the goddess ran and hid 
herself in a cave and refused to come out. In the secret teach- 
ings it is revealed that she could be induced to come forth 
from her asylum only by an aggregation of wise men who 
with offerings, supplications, and grave discoursings finally 
persuaded her to leave her gloomy retreat. The goddess Kun- 
dalini is the spirit fire that descends the mysterious ladder 
which is here emblematic of the umbilical cord. When this 
cord is cut the goddess is left stranded in the underworld. 
Alarmed, she hides in the great cavern of the sacral plexus, 
there to remain coiled up as a serpent (as her name implies) 
until the sage can lure her forth again by holy observances 4 . 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

Never should we lose sight of the relationship between the 
processes of the physical body and the universal orders. The 
umbilical cord is not only the divine ladder in the case of the 
goddess Kundalini, but is symbolic also of that spiritual cord by 
which man is ever suspended from his Divine Parent. While 
man's outer nature is nourished by physical food and drink, 
his inner nature receives life from the Universal Parent trans- 
mitted by means of ethereal cords analogous to the umbilicus. 

In the Shinto Mysteries of Japan the luring of an obstinate 
goddess from her pout was a grave problem. The Goddess of 
the Sun, Amaterasu O-mikami, had quarreled with the other 
celestials, and giving vent to her anger hied herself, light and 
all, into a dark cavern, thus leaving the heavenly world in a 
condition of deplorable gloom. Realizing that the tempera- 
ment of the goddess was endangering the whole order of crea- 
tion, the immortals finally lured her forth by a stratagem which 
appealed to her vanity. They fashioned a great mirror even 
as the Titans polished the surface of the universe that Bacchus 
might see his face therein. Standing this mirror in front of 
the cavern they made a great ado as though in celebration of 
some fortuitous circumstance. Chagrined at the thought that 
the gods could be happy without her, Amaterasu came to the 
cavern entrance and peered out to discover the cause of their 
merriment. As she looked she saw her own face, surrounded 
by a halo of light, reflected in the mirror. Wondering who 
this radiant person could be and terrified by the possibility that 
the gods had somewhere discovered a new sun goddess, Ama- 
terasu slowly approached the entrance of the cave, only to see 
the radiant figure in the mirror also increasing in splendor. 
At last, overcome by her jealousy she dashed from the cave to 
discomfit the rival sun goddess, whereupon the other celestials 
who had gathered above the cavern entrance dropped a net 
over the irate goddess as she rushed forth, thereby preventing 
her escape and insuring that the sun should again light the 
world. Amaterasu and her mirror are household words in 
every Shinto home, and even the august imperial line regards 
the sun goddess as its founder, and her mirror is carried in the 
coronation ceremonials. 

The Ladder of the Gods 


The luring of the light out of darkness is an allegory fre- 
quently employed by many ancient writers on mysticism. It 
represents the effort of material man to evoke, by discipline 
and fetish, that lucid or rational part of himself which for some 
temperamental reason refuses to make itself known. Offended 
by the crassness of the outer life, the aesthetic and superphysical 
attributes of the soul retire into the uttermost recesses of the 
nature, there to await that more auspicious day when the 
awakening individual will concern himself with the nobler 
issues of life. The sages who ponder the problem of enticing 
the goddess from retirement signify the rational mind, the gods, 
and the intuitive instincts, while the priest represents the re- 
generated emotions. All these, holding solemn conclave to- 
gether, finally lure the rational soul from its dark abode that 
its radiance may benefit the whole life. The invoking of the 
soul is possible only to those who have assumed the Great 
Work and resolved to live with the concerns of the spirit 
paramount. Through virtue, integrity, and aesthetics the soul 
life is thus caused to diffuse its power throughout the nature, 
thereby quickening the parts and rendering the whole more 
responsive to divine impulse. 

From a consideration of these various allegories it becomes 
evident that the ladder signifies the thread or cord from which 
the generating soul is suspended from its monadic, or un- 
generated part. The God of the philosophic elect is not tech- 
nically a being, but rather this monad, or universal self. 
Approach to Deity is consequently, the elevation of the life to 
unity with its monadic cause. The abode of this monad is the 
true heaven world, for heaven merely signifies the state of the 
One divorced from all quality or condition whatsoever and 
abiding in the felicity of its own nature, without beginning 
and without end. Thus the ascent of the ladder and the climb- 
ing of the knotted cord arc both emblematic of man’s cease- 
less climb toward Self. It is the retirement of life along the 
lines of its own first emanation— -the natural ascent of the 
wise to wisdom, the virtuous to virtue, the beautiful to beauty, 
and the good to the enduring state of good. The ladder, then, 

426 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

bridges that mysterious fourth-dimensional interval of quality 
described in Chapter X; it is the symbolic figure under which 
are concealed the tedious processes of crossing that vast inter- 
val between diversity and unity. The ladder is the bridge of 
reason, the way of the gods. 

The stepped pyramid is significant of man’s instinctive urge 
to build toward Cause, and all action which tends to elevate, 
ennoble, or perfect may be conceived of as pyramidal, dia- 
grammatically considered. Thus in his discourse to his son on 
initiation, Hermes declares that the heart was built like a pyr* 
amid in that the heart is the seat of aspiration, and aspiration 
is the universal building power. As the Unknown God dwelt 
within the deepest recesses of the Great Pyramid, so a mysterious 
spirit dwells within the heart — man’s House of the Hidden 
Places. The pyramid builders differed from all other archi- 
tects because of the purpose for which their edifices were 
constructed. All men are builders — a few in permanent things, 
the many in impermanent things. St. Paul calls himself a 
“master builder,” by which he intimated that he had been 
initiated into that body of elect artisans banded together to the 
erection of everlasting houses. The pyramid thus became the 
symbol of those called together by an inner rationality who, 
moved by a divine intelligence, heaped up realities that they 
might form mountains, as it were, up which the aspiring soul 
could climb in its search for heaven. While many were cutters 
of stone, hewers of wood, and carriers of water, they were but 
apprentices of the noble art, not having heard as yet the call 
that inclines the soul away from temporal accomplishments 
to the building of those enduring monuments to qualities and 

The mystic Masons, so we are told, built their lodges either 
upon the mountain tops or deep in the valleys, thus obscurely 
intimating that the Mysteries, while in their own nature lofty 
institutions, in the service of mankind descended into the 
depths of matter to effect the redemption of the human soul. 
God appeared to the patriarchs as a cloud over some lofty 
mountain top, and his voice thundered among the summits. 

The Ladder of the Gods 


These sacred mountains — hovering places of the Most High — 
are the sanctified pyramids. These pyramids, in turn, are 
rationalized natures — the chief accomplishment of the master 
builders. They are altars set up in the wilderness to signify 
that integrity has been establised in a sphere to which integrity 
was once foreign. An ancient fable, in describing the stature 
of one whom God has thus anointed and lifted up into the 
assemblage of the illumined, declares that his face shone like 
the sun, and all the brightness of the stars was in his eyes; 
the flow of his hair was like the rippling waves of great rivers, 
and even his breath was as the soft breeze of spring sighing 
among the trees. Though his body was that of a man, his 
inner nature was as vast as the world, and his integrity rose 
like a mighty mountain whose summit is forever hidden by 
the clouds of meditation. The laughter of this perfected one 
sounded like the song of the waterfall, yet his sorrow was like 
the cool of evening among the shelter of the trees. All the 
beauties of the universe were invoked to define his virtues, 
and the immensities of space belittled his greatness. It follows 
that when such an illumined nature heaps together the stones 
of its accomplishment and forms therefrom the altar of its 
God — a high and holy place suitable for the reception of the 
Eternal — the rational soul, invoked by these accomplishments, 
lends its power to the convocation of perfected faculties. Then, 
like the awful hierophant of Revelation, the rational self stands 
in splendid majesty in the midst of the flaming candles. 

Thus all natures are symbolic ladders, for by ascending the 
concatenated orders of his own intelligence man comes prox- 
imate to his own rational and enduring part. The allegory of 
Jack and the beanstalk, which like so many other children’s 
fables has its origin in primitive folklore, well describes the 
mystery of the ladder. The beanstalk, which in a single night 
grew up to heaven, reminds one of the fabled mango tree of 
the elusive Hindu mahatma or the rope thrown into the air 
which does not fall. The miraculous growth of the magician’s 
plant signifies the culturing of the soul. Every philosopher is 
a magician, for by the aid of his unfolded intellect he accom- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

plishes that which to the ignorant appears impossible. The 
rope suspended from nothing, up to which the naked Hindu 
boy scampers out of sight, teaches a valuable lesson to such 
as will inquire into its meaning. The question is often asked 
by the incredulous: “But how can the rope stay there with 
nothing to hold it?” The magician may answer: “It is well- 
supported, only you do not see the support.” The unenlight- 
ened behold the accomplishments of the wise, but the methods 
by which such ends are attained are incomprehensible. The 
great truths of life are, like the magician’s rope, held in their 
proper place by an unseen agent. Those unable to pierce the 
magicians subterfuge have eyes but see not. The millions to 
whom the concerns of the spirit are of no importance, who 
though continually surrounded by manifestations of universal 
intelligence are still oblivious to the whole pageantry — these 
are the truly blind and their affliction is most grievous. 

In the allegory of the beanstalk, Jack is the initiate climb- 
ing upward toward perfection. The beanstalk has two sig- 
nificances. First, it is the secret doctrine which may grow 
up to its fullness in a single night, if that night be regarded 
as the duration of a soul in the mortal state. The beanstalk 
is further symbolic of the soul itself, up which consciousness 
must climb to discover the divine sphere from which it was 
exiled. It is noteworthy that when Jack reaches the upper 
world, where one would naturally expect beauty and tran- 
quillity to reign, he finds instead that his newly-discovered 
sphere is the dwelling place of a fierce ogre who has the 
distressing proclivity of using strangers to supply the require- 
ments of his menu. This giant is the ancient demiurgus— the 
lord of the world, the royal autocrat, the vast tyrant who 
opposes all who would climb out of their materiality. He is 
selfishness, egotism, lust, and hate. He is the epitome of all 
physical attachment, and the appetites by which man is in- 
clined toward the corporeal state. He is the giant of form, the 
hero of little minds, the fetish of the materialist, the god of 
those who worship through the senses alone, the supreme genius 
of the physical-minded, the magnificence to which fools bow 

The Ladder of the Gods 


down. Those who would escape the clutches of this giant must 
be wise indeed, for they must outwit themselves. In the an- 
cient writings it is said that all will fail except a fortuitous 
destiny move with them, for skill will not suffice, prayers will 
be unavailing, and only the graciousness of the gods can in- 
sure success. 

The subject of Providence, or fortuitous destiny, is worthy 
of amplification at this point. One of the symbolic aphorisms 
of Pythagoras enjoined the disciple to abstain from the eating 
of beans. In its literal sense there is seemingly no reason what- 
soever for the admonition. Among the Greeks, however, beans 
were used in gambling and various games of chance, and the 
esoteric purpose of the admonition was to discharge man’s 
reliance upon auspicious fortune; for he who consigns himself 
to the vagaries of chance in reality rests his fate upon his own 
integrity. This point is well made by Mephistopheles in 
Goethe’s Faust : 

“How closely linked are Luck and Merit 
Doth never to these fools occur; 

Had they the Philosopher’s Stone, I swear it, 

The Stone would lack the Philosopher I” 

Man eternally struggles against the littleness that is himself, 
seeking to increase thereby the virtue of his own destiny. By 
such effort he frequently is able to maintain a higher footing 
than would otherwise be his natural right, for effort shall not 
be left unrewarded. If, however, man ceases his struggle and, 
doing nothing, trusts to Providence for an auspicious throw, 
that which is his own will know his face and his reward shall 
be according to the insufficiency of himself. He who trusts 
himself to himself is brave indeed! Luck is not what it seems, 
for it connives with Law to bring about the undoing of the 
foolish. The bit and bridle which Nemesis carries she slips 
over the head of the unwary. With blinders she takes away 
his vision, with checkrein lifts his head so high that he can no 
longer see the road, and then with loose rein drives him to 
destruction. But if the gods throw dice they cannot lose, for 

430 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

by reason of their very nature they are predestined to be the 
victors in every contest. Being as yet imperfect, however man 
may never relax his vigilance or cease his struggle lest the im- 
perfections which he seeks to outdistance overtake and humiliate 

What, then, is Providence? It is like flowing into like, a 
quality reproducing its kind. Providence is not what we de- 
sire but what we actually are, and when we open the flood- 
gates of fortune we shall simply be inundated by the torrents 
of similars— drowned in the substances of ourselves. By con- 
fronting destiny with effort we aspire to reach the ideal state 
of the higher self; but by appealing to fortune we place our- 
selves in the keeping of an impersonal fate that tortures us 
with our every defect, and decrees us to abide by the measure 
of our smallest virtue. Thus only in the truly great is the 
appeal to fortune to be relied upon; for the rest the law of 
labor is the only certain way. When it is written that man 
can suceed only when the gods are auspicious it merely signifies 
that accomplishment depends upon the perfect mastery of self 
and the development of all parts, so that the flow of destiny 
brings to the disciple a propitious end to enterprise. Good 
fortune is not good to the foolish, nor is evil fortune evil to 
the wise. The foolish are incapable of benefiting from that 
which may in its own nature be good; conversely, the wise are 
incapable of being injured by evil, for understanding renders* 
all things usable. Thus the identical so-called evil serves the 
philosopher while it undoes the thoughtless. 

The theory of evolution as expounded by the ancient sages 
does not agree with the Darwinian concept that life moves from 
one form or kind to another, but rather that life continually 
moves through the various states of itself. For example, plants 
do not move toward the perfection of man, nor does man in- 
cline toward the perfection of daemons. Each of these orders 
is complete in itself, moving inevitably toward its own per- 
fection in the perfect unfoldment of its own intrinsic charac- 
teristics. Growth, then, is that eternal procession of qualities 
marching to unity with themselves. Man, the personality, 

The Ladder of the Gods 


approaches Man, the idea, and achieves perfection by unity 
with his own paradigm. Man reaches completion when he 
perfectly fills the mold or pattern that exists in the transcen- 
dental spheres. Evolution, then, is the fitting of a nature into 
its own archetype, and its end is attained when no longer any 
point of difference remains between the object as a transitory 
body and the object as a permanent idea. By growth we learn 
to become our essential selves, ordered after the precise image 
of our own divine prototype. 

That growth should be the process whereby man becomes 
reconciled to his own transcendental being may seem a strange 
thought, but to those who ponder the mystery, this truth 
becomes evident. Our path is rendered plain: we are destined 
by Eternal Providence to become the fullness of ourselves. 
Inclining to neither side nor departing from our persons, we 
shall find perfection in the consummation of the destiny 
for which we were first conceived. The imitator must fail, 
because departing from self he would assume the virtues of 
another rather than his own. Each individual is alloted an 
end peculiar to himself, and through uncounted milleniums 
moves inevitably toward that archetypal ideal patterned for 
him prior to his departure from Universal Self in quest of 
individuality. All creatures of a similar kind share a common 
origin and destiny. It is the peculiar purpose of men that 
they should become Man, and united in one nature constitute 
a complete being — that glorious assemblage of parts possessing 
three virtues, of which the first is completeness and the other 
two are the poles of this completeness, namely, rationality and 


While the body of the candidate lay in the stone sarcophagus, the soul, hovering 
in the air above it, assumed the form of a bird, and passing upward out of the crypt 
through the vent or chimnev of the planets entered into the presence of the great 
Osiris, lord of decamatc souls. After remaining three days in the fields of Amenti, 
the soul returns to its body amidst the rejoicing of the priests. 


Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 

"pREEMASONRY is a fraternity within a fraternity — an outer 
A organization concealing an inner brotherhood of the elect. 
Before it is possible to intelligently discuss the origin of the 
craft it is necessary to establish the existence of these two 
separate yet interdependent orders, the one visible and the 
other invisible. The visible society is a splendid camaraderie 
of “free and accepted” men enjoined to devote themselves to 
ethical, educational, fraternal, patriotic, and humanitarian con- 
cerns. The invisible society is a secret and most august fraternity 
whose members are dedicated to the service of a mysterious 
arcanum arcanorum . Those brethren who have essayed to 
write the history of their craft have not included in their 
disquisitions the story of that truly secret inner society which 
is to the body Freemasonic what the heart is to the body human. 
In each generation only a few are accepted into the inner sanc- 
tuary of the work, but these are veritable princes of truth, 
and their sainted names shall be remembered in future ages 
together with the seers and prophets of the elder world. 
Though the great initiate-philosophers of Freemasonry can be 
counted upon one’s fingers, yet their power is not to be meas- 
ured by the achievements of ordinary men. They are dwellers 
upon the threshold of the innermost, masters of that secret 
doctrine which forms the invisible foundation of every great 
theological and rational institution. 

The outer history of the Masonic order is one of noble en- 
deavor, altruism, and splendid enterprise; the inner history one 
of silent conquest, persecution, and heroic martyrdom. The 
body of Masonry rose from the guilds of workmen who wan- 


434 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

dcrcd the face of medieval Europe, but the spirit of Masonry 
walked with God before the universe was spread out or the 
scroll of the heavens unrolled. The enthusiasm of the young 
Mason is the effervescence of a pardonable pride. Let him 
extol the merits of his craft, reciting its steady growth, its 
fraternal spirit, and its worthy undertakings. Let him boast 
of splendid buildings and an ever-increasing sphere of in- 
fluence. These arc the tangible evidence of power, and should 
rightly set a-flutter the heart of the apprentice who does not 
fully comprehend as yet that great strength which abides in 
silence, or that unutterable dignity to be sensed only by those 
who have been “raised” into the contemplation of the inner 

An obstacle well-nigh insurmountable is to convince the 
Mason that the secrets of his craft are worthy of his profound 
consideration. As St. Paul (so we are told) kicked against 
the “pricks” of conversion, so the rank and file of present-day 
Masons strenuously oppose any effort put forth to interpret 
Masonic symbols in the light of philosophy. They are seem- 
ingly obsessed by the fear that from their ritualism may be 
extracted a meaning more profound than is actually contained 
therein. For years it has been a moot question whether 
Freemasonry is actually a religious organization. “Masonry,” 
writes Pike in the Legcnda for the Nineteenth Degree, “has and 
always had a religious creed. It teaches what it deems to be 
the truth in respect to the nature and attributes of God.” The 
more studious-minded Mason regards the craft as an aggrega- 
tion of thinkers concerned with the deeper mysteries of life. 
The all-too prominent younger members of the fraternity, how- 
ever, if not openly skeptical, are at least indifferent to these 
weightier issues. The champions of philosophic Masonry, alas, 
are a weak, small voice which grows weaker and smaller as 
time goes by. In fact, there are actual blocs among the brethren 
who would divorce Masonry from both philosophy and re- 
ligion at any and all cost. If, however, we search the writings 
of eminent Masons, we find a unanimity of viewpoint, namely, 
that Masonry is a religious and philosophic body. Every effort 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 435 

initiated to elevate Masonic thought to its true position has 
thus invariably emphasized the metaphysical and ethical aspects 
of the craft. 

But a superficial perusal of available documents will dem- 
onstrate that the modern Masonic order is not united re- 
specting the true purpose for its own existence. Nor will 
this factor of doubt be dispelled until the origin of the craft 
is established beyond all quibbling. The elements of Masonic 
history are strangely elusive; there are gaps which apparently 
cannot be bridged. “Who the early Freemasons really were,” 
states Gould in A Concise History of Freemasonry, “and 
whence they came, may afford a tempting theme for inquiry 
to the speculative antiquary. But it is enveloped in obscurity, 
and lies far outside the domain of authentic history.” Between 
modern Freemasonry with its vast body of ancient symbolism, 
and those original Mysteries which first employed these sym- 
bols, there is a dark interval of centuries. To the conservative 
Masonic historian the deductions of such writers as Higgins, 
Churchward, Vail, and Waite— though ingenious and fascinat- 
ing— actually prove nothing. That Masonry is a body of an- 
cient lore is self-evident, but the tangible “link” necessary to 
convince the recalcitrant brethren that their order is the direct 
successor of the pagan Mysteries, has unfortunately not been 
adduced to date. Of such problems as these is composed the 
“angel” with which the Masonic Jacob must wrestle through- 
out the night. 

It is possible to trace Masonry back a few centuries with 
comparative ease, but then the thread suddenly vanishes from 
sight in a maze of secret societies and political enterprises. 
Dimly silhouetted in the mists that becloud these tangled issues 
are such figures as Cagliostro, Comte de St.-Germain, and 
St. Martin, but even the connection between these individuals 
and the craft has never been clearly defined. The writings of 
early Masonic history is involved in such obvious hazard as to 
provoke the widespread conclusion that further search is futile. 
The average Masonic student is content, therefore, to trace his 
craft back to the workmen who chipped and chiselled the 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

cathedrals and public buildings of medieval Europe. While 
such men as Albert Pike have realized this attitude to be ridic- 
ulous, it is one thing to declare it insufficient and quite another 
to prove the fallacy to an adamantine mind. So much has 
been lost and forgotten, so much ruled in and out by those 
unfitted for such legislative revision, that the modern rituals 
do not in every case represent the original rites of the craft. 
In his Symbolism, Pike (who spent a lifetime in the quest for 
Masonic secrets) declares that few of the original meanings of 
the symbols are known to the modern order, nearly all the 
so-called interpretations now given being superficial. Pike con- 
fessed that the original meanings of the very symbols he him- 
self was attempting to interpret were irretrievably lost; that 
even such familiar emblems as the apron and the pillars were 
locked mysteries, whose “keys” had been thrown away by the 
uninformed. “The initiated,” writes John Fellows, “as well 
as those without the pale of the order, are equally ignorant 
of their derivation and import.” (See The Mysteries of Free- 
masonry .) 

Preston, Gould, Mackey, Oliver, and Pike — in fact, nearly 
every great historian of Freemasonry — have all admitted the 
possibility of the modern society being connected, indirectly 
at least, with the ancient Mysteries, and their descriptions of 
the modern society are prefaced by excerpts from ancient 
writings dscriptive of primitive ceremonials. These eminent 
Masonic scholars have recognized in the legend of Hiram Abifi 
an adaptation of the Osiris myth; nor do they deny that the 
major part of the symbolism of the craft is derived from the 
pagan institutions of antiquity when the gods were venerated 
in secret places with strange figures and appropriate rituals. 
Though cognizant of the exalted origin of their order, these 
historians — either through fear or uncertainty — have failed to 
drive home the one point necessary to establish the true purpose 
of Freemasonry: They did not realize that the Mysteries whose 
rituals Freemasonry perpetuates were the custodians of a secret 
philosophy of life of such transcendent nature that it can be 
entrusted to only an individual tested and proved beyond any 

Rosigrucian and Masonic Origins 


possibility of human frailty. The secret schools of Greece and 
Egypt were neither fraternal nor political fundamentally, nor 
were their ideals similar to those of the modern craft. They 
were essentially philosophic and religious institutions, and all ad- 
mitted into them were consecrated to the service of the sovereign 
good. Modern Freemasons, however, regard their craft as 
neither primarily philosophic nor religious, but rather as ethical. 
Strange as it may seem, the majority openly ridicule the very 
supernatural powers and agencies for which their symbols 

The secret doctrine that flows through Freemasonic symbols 
(and to whose perpetuation the invisible Masonic body is con- 
secrated) has its source in three ancient and exalted orders. 
The first is the Dionysiac artificers, the second the Roman 
collegia, and the third the Arabian Rosicrucians. The Diony- 
sian s were the master builders of the ancient world. Originally 
founded to design and erect the theaters of Dionysus wherein 
were enacted the tragic dramas of the rituals, this order was 
repeatedly elevated by popular acclaim to greater dignity, until 
at last it was entrusted with the planning and construction of 
all public edifices concerned with the commonwealth or the 
worship of the gods and heroes. Hiram, King of Tyre, was 
the patron of the Dionysians, who flourished in Tyre and 
Sidon, and Hiram Abiff (if we may believe the sacred account) 
was himself a grand master of this most noble order erf pagan 
builders. King Solomon in his wisdom accepted the services 
of this famous craftsman, and thus at the instigation of Hiram, 
King of Tyre, Hiram Abiff, though himself a member of a 
different faith, journeyed from his own country to design and 
supervise the erection of the everlasting house to the true God 
on Mount Moriah. TTie tools of the builders’ craft were first 
employed by the Dionysian as symbols under which to conceal 
the mysteries of the soul and the secrets of human regeneration. 
The Dionysians also first likened man to a rough ashlar which, 
trued into a finished block through the instrument of reason, 
could be fitted into the structure of that living and eternal 
Temple built without the sound of hammer, the voice of 
workman, or any tool of contention. 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

The Roman collegia was a branch of the Dionysiacs and to 
it belonged those initiated artisans who fashioned the impressive 
monuments whose ruins still lend their immortal glory to the 
Eternal City, In his Ten Boofo on Architecture , Vitruvius, the 
initiate of the collegia, has revealed that which was permissible 
concerning the secrets of his holy order. Of the inner mys- 
teries, however, he could not write, for these were reserved for 
such as had donned the leather apron of the craft. In his con- 
sideration of the books now available concerning the Mysteries 
the thoughtful reader should note the following words appear- 
ing in a 12th-century volume entitled Artephil Liber Secretus: 
“Is not this an art full of secrets? And believest thou, O fooll 
that we plainly teach this Secret of Secrets, taking our words 
according to their literal interpretation?” (See Sephar H ' De~ 
barim.) Into the stones they trued, the adepts of the collegia 
deeply carved their gnostic symbols. From earliest times the 
initiated stonecutters marked their perfected works with the 
secret emblems of their crafts and degrees, that unborn genera- 
tions might realize that the master builders of the first ages 
also labored for the same ends sought by men today. 

The Mysteries of Egypt and Persia that had found a haven 
in the Arabian Desert reached Europe by way of the Knights 
Templars and the Rosicrucians. The Temple of the Rose Cross 
at Damascus had preserved the secret philosophy of the Rose of 
Sharon; the Druses of the Lebanon mountains still retain the 
mysticism of ancient Syria; and the dervishes, as they lean on 
their carved and crotched sticks, still meditate upon the secret 
instruction perpetuated from the days of the four caliphs. 
From the far places of Irak and the hidden retreats of the Sufi 
mystics, the Ancient Wisdom found its way into Europe. Was 
Jacques de Molay burned by the Holy Inquisition merely be- 
cause he wore the red cross of the Templar? What were those 
secrets to which he was true even in death? Did his com- 
panion knights perish with him merely because they had 
amassed a fortune and exercised an unusual degree of tem- 
poral power? To the thoughtless these may constitute ample 
grounds, but to those who can pierce the film of the specious 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 439 

and the superficial they are assuredly insufficient. It was not 
the physical power of the Templars, but the knowledge which 
they had brought with them from the East, that the church 
feared. The Templars had discovered part of the great ar- 
canum; they had become wise in those mysteries which had 
been celebrated in Mecca thousands of years before the advent 
of Mohammed; they had read a few pages from the dread 
book of the Anthropos, and for this knowledge they were 
doomed to die. What was the black magic of which the 
Templars were accused? What was Baphomet, the Goat of 
Mendes, whose mysteries they were declared to have celebrated ? 
All these are questions worthy of thoughtful consideration by 
every studious Mason. 

Truth is eternal. The so-called revelations of truth that 
come in diiferent religions are actually but a re-emphasis of 
an ever-existing doctrine. Moses did not originate a new re- 
ligion for Israel; he simply adapted the Mysteries of Egypt to 
the needs of Israel. The ark triumphantly borne by the twelve 
tribes through the wilderness was copied after the Isiac ark, 
which may still be traced in faint bas-relief upon the ruins of 
the Temple of Philac. Even the two brooding cherubim over 
the mercy scat are visible in the Egyptian carving, furnishing 
indubitable evidence that the secret doctrine of Egypt was the 
prototype of Israel’s mystery religion. In his reformation of 
Indian philosophy, Buddha likewise did not reject the esoteri- 
cism of the Brahmins, but rather adapted this esotericism to 
the needs of the masses in India. The mystic secrets locked 
within the holy Vedas were disclosed in order that all men, 
irrespective of caste, might partake of wisdom and share in a 
common heritage of good. Jesus was a Rabbi of the Jews, a 
teacher of the holy law who discoursed in the synagogue, 
interpreting the Torah according to the teachings of his sect. 
He brought no new message nor were his reformations radical. 
He merely tore away the veil from the temple in order that 
not only Pharisee and Sadducee, but also publican and sinner 
might together behold the glory of an ageless faith. 

440 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

In his cavern on Mount Hira, Mohammed prayed not for 
new truths, but for old truths to be restated in their original 
purity and simplicity in order that men might understand 
again the primitive religion: God’s clear revelation to the first 
patriarchs. The Mysteries of Islam had been celebrated in the 
sanctuary of the Kaaba centuries before the holy pilgrimage. 
The prophet was but the reformer of a decadent pagandom, 
the smasher of idols, the purifier of defiled Mysteries. The 
dervishes, who patterned their garments after those of the 
prophet, still preserve that inner teaching of the elect, and 
for them the Axis of the Earth— the supreme hierophant- 
visible only to the faith still sits in meditation upon the flat 
roof of the Kaaba. Neither carpenter nor camel driver, as 
Abdul Baha might have said, can fashion a world religion 
from the substances of his own mind. Neither prophet nor 
savior preached a doctrine which was his own, but in language 
suitable to his time and race retold that Ancient Wisdom which 
has been preserved within the Mysteries since the dawning 
of human consciousness. So with the Masonic Mysteries of 
today. Each Mason has at hand those lofty principles of 
universal order upon whose certainties the faiths of mankind 
have ever been established. 

Father C. R. C., the master of the Rosy Cross, was initiated 
into the great work at Damcar. Later at Fez further informa- 
tion was given him relating to the sorcery of the Arabians. 
From these wizards of the desert he also secured the sacred 
book M , which is declared to have contained the accumulated 
knowledge of the world. He translated this volume into 
Latin for the edification of his order, but only the initiates 
know the present hidden repository of the Rosicrucian manu- 
scripts, charters, and manifestoes. From the Arabians C. R. C. 
also learned of the elemental peoples and how, with their aid, 
it was possible to gain admission to the ethereal world where 
dwelt the genii and nature spirits. He thus discovered that 
the magical creatures of the Arabian "Nights Entertainment 
actually existed, though invisible to the ordinary mortal. From 
astrologers living in the desert far from the concourse of the 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 441 

marketplace he was further instructed concerning the mysteries 
of the stars, the virtues resident in the astral light, the rituals 
of magic and invocation, the preparation of therapeutic talis- 
mans, and the binding of the genii. He became an adept in 
the gathering of medicinal herbs, the transmutation of metals, 
and the manufacture, of precious gems by artificial means. 
Even the secret of the elixir of life and the universal panacea 
were communicated to him. Enriched beyond the dreams of 
Croesus, the holy master returned to Europe and there estab- 
lished a house of wisdom which he called Domus Sancti 
Spirit™. This house he enveloped in clouds, it is said, so that 
men could not discover it. What arc these “clouds,” but the 
rituals and symbols under which is concealed the great arcanum 
—that unspeakable mystery which every true Mason must seek 
if he would become in reality a “Prince of the Royal Secret” ? 

Paracelsus, the Swiss Hermes, was initiated into the secrets 
of alchemy in Constantinople and there beheld the consum- 
mation of the magnum opus. He is consequendy endded to 
be mentioned among those initiated by the Arabians into the 
Rosicrucian work. Cagliostro was also initiated by the Ara- 
bians, and because of the knowledge he had thus secured in- 
curred the displeasure of the Holy See. From the unprobed 
depths of Arabian Rosicrucianism issued the illustrious Comte 
dc St.-Germain, over whose Masonic activities the veil of im- 
penetrable mystery still hangs. The exalted body of initiates 
whom he represented, as well as the mission he came to ac- 
complish, have both been concealed from the members of the 
craft at large, and are apparent only to those few discerning 
Masons who sense the supernal philosophic destiny of their 

The modern Masonic order can be traced back to a period 
in European history famous for its intrigue both political and 
sociological. Between the years 1600 and 1800, mysterious 
agents moved across the face of the Continent. The forerunner 
of modern thought was beginning to make its appearance, and 
all Europe was passing through the throes of internal dissension 
and reconstruction. Democracy was in its infancy, yet its po- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

tential power was already being felt. Thrones were begin- 
ning to totter. The aristocracy of Europe was like the old man 
on Sinbad’s back; it was becoming more unbearable with every 
passing day. Although upon the surface national governments 
were seemingly able to cope with the situation, there was a 
definite undercurrent of impending change. Out of the masses, 
long patient under the yoke oppression, were rising up the 
champions of religious, philosophic, and political liberty. 
These led the factions of the dissatisfied; people with legitimate 
grievances against the intolerance of the church and the op- 
pression of the crown. Out of this struggle for expression 
certain definite ideals materialized which have now come to 
be considered peculiarly Masonic. 

The divine prerogatives of humanity were being crushed 
out by the three great powers of ignorance, superstition, and 
fear— ignorance, the power of the mob; superstition, the power 
of the church, and fear, the power of the despot. Between the 
thinker and personal liberty loomed the three “ruffians” or per- 
sonifications of impediment— the torch, the crown, and the 
tiara. Brute force, kingly power, and ecclesiastical persuasion 
became the agents of a great oppression, the motive of a deep 
unrest, the deterrent to all progress. It was unlawful to think, 
well-nigh fatal to philosophize, rank heresy to doubt. To 
question the infallibility of the existing order was to invite the 
persecution of the church and the state. Together they incited 
the populace, which thereupon played the role of (executioner 
for these arch-enemies of human liberty. Thus the ideal of 
democracy assumed a definite form during these stormy periods 
of European history. This democracy was not only a vision, 
but a retrospection; not only a looking forward, but a gazing 
backward upon better days and the effort to project those 
better days into the unborn tomorrow. The ethical, political, 
and philosophical institutions of antiquity, with their construc- 
tive effect upon the whole structure of the state, were noble 
examples of possible conditions. It became the dream of the 
oppressed to re-establish a golden age upon the earth; an age 
in which the thinker could think in safety and the dreamer 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 


dream in peace; when the wise should lead and the simple 
follow, yet all dwell together in fraternity and industry. 

During this period several books were in circulation, which 
to a certain degree registered the pulse of the time. One of 
these documents— More’s Utopia — was the picture of a new 
age when heavenly conditions should prevail upon the earth. 
This ideal of establishing good in the world savored of blas- 
phemy, for in that day it was assumed that heaven alone could 
be good. Men did not seek to establish heavenly conditions 
upon earth, but rather earthly conditions in heaven. Accord- 
ing to popular concept, the more the individual suffered the 
torments of the damned upon earth, the more he would enjoy 
the blessedness in heaven. Life was a period of chastisement, 
and earthly happiness an unattainable mirage. More’s Utopia 
thus came as a definite blow to autocratic pretensions and 
attitudes, giving impulse to the material emphasis which was 
to follow in succeeding centuries. 

Another prominent figure of this period was Sir Walter 
Raleigh, who paid with his life for high treason against the 
crown. Raleigh was tried, and though the charge was never 
proved he was executed. Before he went to trial it was known 
that he must die, and that no defense could save him. His 
treason against the crown was of a character very different, 
however, from that which history records. Raleigh was a 
member of a secret society, or body of men, which was already 
moving irresistibly forward under the banner of democracy, 
and for that affiliation he died a felon’s death. The actual rea- 
son for his death sentence was his refusal to reveal the identity 
of that great political organization of which he was a member, 
or his confreres who were fighting the dogma of faith and the 
divine right of kings. On the title page of the first edition of 
Raleigh’s History of the World , we accordingly find a mass 
of intricate emblems framed between two great columns. When 
the executioner sealed his lips forever, Raleigh’s silence, while 
it added to the discomfiture of his persecutors, assured the safety 
of his colleagues. 

Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

One of the truly great minds of that secret fraternity— in 
fact, the moving spirit of the whole enterprise — was Sir Fran- 
cis Bacon, whose prophecy of the coming age forms the theme 
in his New Atlantis, and whose vision of the reformation of 
knowledge finds expression in the Novum Organum. In the 
engraving at the beginning of the latter volume may be seen 
the little ship of progressivism sailing out between the pillars 
of Galenic and Avicennian philosophy venturing forth beyond 
the imaginary pillars of church and state upon the unknown 
sea of human liberty. It is significant that Bacon was appointed 
by the British Crown to protect its interests in the new Amer- 
ican Colonies beyond the sea. We find him writing of this 
new land, dreaming of the day when a new world and a new 
government of the philosophic elect should be established there, 
and scheming to consummate that end when the right time 
came. Upon the title page of the 1640 edition of Bacon’s 
Advancement of Learning is a Latin motto to the effect that 
he was the third great mind since Plato. Bacon was a member 
of the same group to which Sir Walter Raleigh belonged, but 
Bacon’s position as lord chancellor protected him from Raleigh’s 
fate. Every effort was made, however, to humiliate and dis- 
credit him. At last, in the sixty-sixth year of his life, he com- 
pleted the work which held him in England. He feigned 
death and passed over into Germany, there to guide the des- 
tinies of his philosophic and political fraternity for nearly twen- 
ty-five years before his actual demise. 

Other notable characters of the period are Montaigne, Ben 
Jonson, Marlowe, and the great Franz Joseph of Transylvania 
—the latter one of the most important as well as active figures 
in all this drama; a man who ceased fighting Austria and 
retired to a monastery in Transylvania from where he directed 
the activities of his secret society. One political upheaval fol- 
lowed another. The grand climax culminated in the French 
Revolution, which was directly precipitated by the attacks 
upon the person of Alessandro Cagliostro. The "divine” Cag- 
liostro, by far the most picturesque character of the time, 
has the distinction of being more maligned than any other 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 


person of history. Tried by the Inquisition for founding a 
Masonic lodge in the city of Rome, he was sentenced to die, 
a sentence later commuted by the Pope to life imprisonment 
in the old castle of San Leo. Shortly after his incarceration 
Cagliostro disappeared, and the story was circulated that he 
had been strangled in an attempt to escape from prison. In 
reality he was liberated and returned to his masters in the 
East. But Cagliostro — the idol of France, surnamed “the Father 
of the Poor,’* who never received anything from anyone and 
gave everything to everyone— was most adequately revenged. 
Though the people little understood this inexhaustible pitcher 
of bounty which poured forth benefits and never required 
replenishment, they remembered him in the day of their power. 

Cagliostro founded the Egyptian rite of Freemasonry, which 
received into its mysteries many of the French nobility and 
was regarded favorably by the most learned minds of Europe. 
Having established the Egyptian rite, Cagliostro declared him- 
self to be an agent of the order of the Knights Templars, and 
to have received initiation from them on the Isle of Malta. 
(See Morals and Dogma in which Albert Pike quotes Eliphas 
Levi on Cagliostro’s affiliation with the Templars.) Called 
upon the carpet by the supreme council of France, it was 
demanded of Cagliostro that he prove by what authority he 
had founded a Masonic lodge in Paris, independent of the 
Grand Orient. Of such surpassing mentality was Cagliostro 
that the supreme council found it difficult to secure an advocate 
qualified to discuss with him philosophic Masonry and the 
ancient Mysteries he claimed to represent. Court de Gebelin 
—the greatest Egyptologist of his day and an authority on 
ancient philosophies— was chosen as the outstanding scholar. 
A time was set and the brethren convened. Attired in an 
Oriental coat and a pair of violet-colored breeches, Cagliostro 
was haled before this council of his peers. Court de Gebelin 
asked three questions and then sat down, admitting him- 
self disqualified to interrogate a man so much his superior 
in every branch of learning. Cagliostro then took the floor, 
revealing to the assembled Masons not only his personal quali- 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

fications, but prophesying the future of France. He foretold 
the fall of the French throne, the Reign of Terror, and the 
fall of the Bastille. At a later time he revealed the dates of 
the death of Marie Antoinette and the king, and also the advent 
of Napoleon. Having finished his address he made a spec- 
tacular exit, leaving the French Masonic lodge in consternation 
and utterly incapable of coping with the profundity of his 
reasoning. Though no longer regarded as a ritual in Free- 
masonry, the Egyptian rite is available, and all who read it 
will recognize its author to have been no more a charlatan 
than was Plato. 

Then appears that charming “first American gentleman,” 
Dr. Benjamin Franklin, who together with the Marquis de 
Lafayette, played an important role in this drama of empires. 
While in France Dr. Franklin was privileged to receive definite 
esoteric instruction. It is noteworthy that he was the first in 
America to reprint Anderson’s Constitutions of the Vree-Masons, 
which is a most prized work on the subject though its ac- 
curacy is disputed. 

Through all this stormy period these impressive figures 
come and go, part of a definite organization of political and 
religious thought— a functioning body of philosophers repre- 
sented in Spain by no less an individual than Cervantes, in 
France by Cagliostro and St.-Germain, in Germany by Gichtel 
and Andireae, in England by Bacon, More, and Raleigh, and 
in America by Washington and Franklin. Coincident with 
the Baconian agitation in England, the Varna Vraternitatis and 
Confessio Vraternitatis appeared in Germany, both of these 
works being contributions to the establishment of a philosophic 
government upon the earth. One of the outstanding links 
between the Rosicrucian Mysteries of the Middle Ages and 
modern Masonry is Elias Ash mole, the historian of the Order 
of the Garter and the first Englishman to compile the al- 
chemical writings of the English chemists. 

The foregoing may seem to be a useless recital of inanities, 
but its purpose is to impress upon the reader’s mind the philo- 
sophical and political situation in Europe at the time of the 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins 


inception of the Masonic order. A philosophic clan, as it were, 
which had moved across the face of Europe under such names 
as the “Illuminati” and the “Rosicrucians,” had undermined 
in a subtle manner the entire structure of regal and sacerdotal 
supremacy. The founders of Freemasonry were all men who 
were more or less identified with the progressive tendencies of 
their day. Mystics, philosophers, and alchemists were all bound 
together with a secret tie, and dedicated to the emancipation 
of humanity from ignorance and oppression. 

In my researches among ancient books and manuscripts I 
have pieced together a little story of probabilities which has 
a direct bearing upon the subject. Long before the establish- 
ment of Freemasonry as a fraternity, a group of mystics 
founded in Europe what was called the “Society of Unknown 
Philosophers.” Prominent among the profound thinkers who 
formed the membership of this society were the alchemists, 
who were engaged in transmuting the political and religious 
“base metal" of Europe into ethical and spiritual “gold”; the 
Cabalists, who as investigators of the superior orders of nature 
sought to discover a stable foundation for human government; 
and lastly the astrologers who, from a study of the procession 
of the heavenly bodies, hoped to find therein the rational 
archetype for all mundane procedure. Here and there is to 
be found a character who contacted this society. By some it 
is believed that both Martin Luther and that great mystic, 
Philipp Melanchthon, were connected with it. The first edition 
of the King James Bible, which was edited by Francis Bacon 
and prepared under Masonic supervision, bears more Mason’s 
marks than the Cathedral of Strasbourg. The same is true 
respecting the Masonic symbolism found in the first English 
edition of Flavius Josephus* The Antiquities of the Jews. 

For some time the Society of Unknown Philosophers moved 
extraneous to the church. Among the fathers of the church, 
however, were a great number of scholarly and intelligent men 
who were keenly interested in philosophy and ethics, promi- 
nent among them being the German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher, 
who is recognized as one of the great scholars of his day. 

448 Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

A Rosicrucian, and also a member of the Society of Unknown 
Philosophers as revealed by the cryptograms in his writings, 
Kircher was in harmony with the program of philosophic 
reconstruction. Since learning was largely limited to church- 
men, the body of philosophers soon developed an overwhelm- 
ing preponderance of ecclesiastics in its membership. The 
original antiecclcsiastical ideals of the society were speedily 
reduced to an innocuous state, and the organization gradually 
became an actual auxiliary of the church. A small portion of 
the membership, however, maintained an aloofness from the 
literati of the faith, for it represented an unorthodox class— 
the alchemists, Rosicrucians, Cabalists, and magicians. This 
latter group accordingly retired from the outer body of the 
society that had come to be known as the “Order of the Golden 
and Rose Cross” and whose adepts were elevated to the dignity 
of Knights of the Golden Stone. Upon the withdrawal of these 
initiated adepts, a powerful clerical body remained which 
possessed considerable of the ancient lore but in many instances 
lacked the “keys” by which this symbolism could be interpreted. 
As this body continued to increase in temporal power, its phil- 
osophical power grew correspondingly less. 

The smaller group of adepts that had withdrawn from the 
order apparently remained inactive, having retired to what 
they termed the “House of the Holy Spirit,” where they were 
enveloped by certain “mists” impenetrable to the eyes of the 
profane. Among these reclusive adepts must be included such 
well-known Rosicrucians as Robert Fludd, Eugenius Philalethes, 
John Heydon, Michael Maier, and Henri Khunrath. These 
adepts in their retirement constituted a loosely organized society 
which, though lacking the solidarity of a definite fraternity, 
occasionally initiated a candidate and met annually at a specified 
place. It was the Comte de Chazal, an initiate of this order, 
who “raised” Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom while the latter was on 
the Isle of Mauritius. In due time the original members of the 
order passed on, after first entrusting their secrets to carefully 
chosen successors. In the meantime a group of men in Eng- 
land, under the leadership of such mystics as Ash mole and 

Rosicrucian and Masonic Oiigini 449 

Fludd, had resolved upon repopularizing the ancient learning 
and reclassifying philosophy in accordance with Bacon’s plan 
for a world encyclopedia. These men had undertaken to re- 
construct ancient Platonic and Gnostic mysticism, but were 
unable to attain their objective for lack of information. Elias 
Ashmolc may have been a member of the European order of 
Rosicrucians, and as such evidently knew that in various parts 
of Europe there were isolated individuals who were in posses- 
sion of the secret doctrine handed down in unbroken line from 
the ancient Greeks and Egyptians through Boethius, the early 
Christian Church, and the Arabians. 

The efforts of the English group to contact such individuals 
were evidently successful. Several initiated Rosicrucians were 
brought from the mainland to England, where they remained for 
a considerable time designing the symbolism of Freemasonry 
and incorporating into the rituals of the order the same divine 
principles and philosophy that had formed the inner doctrine 
of all great secret societies from the time of the Eleusinia in 
Greece. In fact, the Eleusinian Mysteries themselves continued 
in the custody of the Arabians, as attested by the presence 
of Masonic symbols and figures upon early Mohammedan 
monuments. The adepts who were brought over from the 
Continent to sit in council with the English philosophers were 
initiates of the Arabian rites, and through them the Mysteries 
were ultimately returned to Christendom. Upon completion 
of the by-laws of the new fraternity the initiates retired again 
to Central Europe, leaving a group of disciples to develop 
the outer organization which was to function as a sort of 
screen to conceal the activities of the esoteric order. 

Such, in brief, is the story which we are able to piece to- 
gether from the fragmentary bits of evidence available. The 
whole structure of Freemasonry is founded upon the activities 
of this secret society of Central European adepts, whom the 
studious Mason will find to be the definite “link” between 
the modern craft and the ancient wisdom. The outer body 
of Masonic philosophy was merely the veil of this cabalistic 


Lectures on Ancient Philosophy 

order whose members were the custodians of the true arcanum. 
Does this inner and secret brotherhood of initiates still exist 
independent of the Freemasonic order? Evidence points to 
the fact that it does, for these august adepts are the actual 
preservers of those secret operative processes of the Greeks 
whereby the illumination and completion of the individual is 
effected. They are the veritable guardians of the “Lost Word” 
— the Keepers of the Inner Mystery — and the Mason who 
searches for and discovers them is rewarded beyond all mortal 

In the preface to a book entitled Long-Livers, published in 
1772, Eugenius Philalethes, the Rosicrucian initiate, thus ad- 
dresses his Brethren of the Most Ancient and Most Honorable 
Fraternity of the Free Masons: “Remember that you are the 
Salt of the Earth, the Light of the World, and the Fire of the 
Universe. You are living Stones, built upon a Spiritual House, 
who believe and rely on the chief Lapis Angularis which the 
refractory and disobedient Builders disallowed. You are called 
from Darkness to Light; you are a chosen Generation, a royal 
Priesthood. This makes you, my dear Brethren, fit Com- 
panions for the greatest Kings; and no wonder, since the King 
of Kings hath condescended to make you so to himself, com- 
pared to whom the mightiest and most haughty Princess of the 
Earth are but as worms, and that not so much as we are all 
Sons of the same one Eternal Father, by whom all Things were 
made; but inasmuch as we do the Will of his and our Father 
which is in Heaven. You see now your high Dignity; you 
see what you are; act accordingly, and show yourselves (what 
you are) MEN, and walk worthy the high Profession to which 
you are called. • # # Remember, then, what the great End we 
all aim at is: Is it not to be happy here and hereafter? For they 
both depend on each other. The Seeds of that eternal Peace 
and Tranquillity and everlasting Repose must be sown in this 
Life; and he that would glorify and enjoy the Sovereign Good 
then must learn to do it now, and from contemplating the